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Increasingly ominous clouds are gathering in what could soon be the perfect storm against the United States dollar and against the present dollar-centric global financial order.
Investors will begin to stampede out of financial assets such as Treasuries and into hard assets like precious metals and certain commodities whose price has been severely beaten down. These will offer comparatively much safer stores of wealth, ones with a real profit potential. China, via its resource buys, is already blazing the trail, going energetically into hard assets, rather than sustaining its 2008 rate of purchases of Treasuries and other financial assets.
Replay the recent histories of the chaotic housing and the commodities bubble bursts. Global investors, at the behest of enthusiastic governments, largely ignored the inevitable risks and piled into these assets on a grand scale, with the hottest interest coming just before the burst occurred. The environment of very low global interest rates and a massive global credit excess set the stage for enormous investor profits on these gigantic and mushrooming asset bubbles.
Though the present Treasuries bubble is more about safety than it is about profit, the fundamental risks associated with bubbles still apply to it. The bigger it gets, and the more reliant upon it as a safe store global investors become, the more unstable it turns out to be because it becomes more sensitive to various factors, both internal and external, both real and psychological.
The bigger and hotter any bubble gets, the more prepared its devotees become to speedily abandon it in favor of the next one. That explains why investors have mostly piled into very short term Treasuries - they know they may well have to sell out even faster than they bought in.
Official and popular analysis of the predicament facing the US dollar has for the most part been distinctly unwilling to come fully to grips with the stark truth about the real nature of this deepening crisis and the escalating risks that are surfacing. Far too much optimism and wishful thinking, and scarce courageous realism, is a recipe for an even worse disaster than the one we're suffering at present.
We have seen in Part 1 the profound risks of a dollar crisis being triggered if global demand for US Treasuries remains high and that the debt bubble persistently and destructively sucks all the air out of the global credit markets. However, if global demand for Treasuries is not sustained at a very high level, there exists an entirely different, yet equally destructive set of impending and mounting risks that a dollar crisis might be triggered.
With regard to whether Chinese advisors and experts think the US government is creating a dangerous and unstable Treasuries bubble, note this statement:
"Buying US government bonds amid an economic downturn, (a purchase) that is not based on the sound performance of the US economy itself, indicates a huge bubble," said Zuo Xiaolei, chief economist of China Galaxy Securities.
There is mounting evidence that China's central bank is undertaking the process of divesting itself of longer-dated US Treasuries in favor of shorter-dated ones.
There is also mounting evidence that China's increasingly energetic new campaign of capitalizing on the global crisis by making resource buys across the globe may be (1) helping its central bank to decrease exposure to the dollar, while (2) simultaneously positioning China to make much greater profit on its investment of its reserves into hard assets whose prices are now greatly beaten down, while (3) also affording it greatly increased control of strategic resources and the geopolitical clout that goes with it. This is turning out to be a win-win-win situation for China as it capitalizes upon the important opportunities afforded it by the present global crisis.
The exact size and the precise composition of China's huge forex reserves, the exact degree of China's exposure to the dollar and its viable options, if any, in decreasing that exposure are matters of intense interest, because China's policies in this regard could have gargantuan implications for the US and the global financial systems and for the dollar.
Enter China's resource buys. Several Chinese experts have been saying that China needs to spend a significant portion of its dollar-denominated reserves on hard assets, thereby further reducing its exposure to the dollar. It certainly appears that China is embarking upon just such a strategy.
The bubble in US Treasuries is getting increasingly massive and unstable with each week that passes. Deepening global risk aversion is keeping investors lined up, so far, to buy Treasuries - especially short-dated ones. And the deepening economic crisis in the US is moving its own citizens to join in the buying spree.
If the Treasuries bubble persists for much longer, and especially if it continues to mount, the massive and dangerous distortions in the global financial system and the Treasuries-induced strangulation of its credit markets will only become more severe, likely leading to a meltdown somewhere in the emerging markets, one of whose effects will almost certainly spread to engulf the severely weakened Western European and US financial sectors and plunge particularly the US economy into a deep depression, with potent negative effects upon the dollar.