Chinese Currency and the U.S. Financial Crisis

Some people might have been surprised to read in Sunday’s New York Times magazine that I believed “that all that easy money from China helped make the housing bubble much bigger and last longer, which created a far bigger crisis when the bubble finally burst.” As you might suspect, it was only those two little words “from China” that gave me pause. But I’m very grateful to Adam Davidson and his colleagues at NPR’s Planet Money for giving me a chance to elaborate on their blog. Here’s a brief excerpt:

China was eager to buy our debt, both Treasury bonds and Fannie and Freddie’s debt. But it was Congress that ran the deficits, and the Fed that kept interest rates artificially low. We don’t need to go to Beijing to find the villains in this piece….

Our economy could use plenty of reforms – lower, flatter, simpler taxes; a more stable monetary policy or even a move toward free markets in money; reduced regulatory burdens; the de-monopolization of services from education to mail delivery; and less government spending. In all those cases, the problem and the solution are right here in the USA.

Read it all! And special bonus links: Steve Hanke responds to the argument for a tougher policy toward China at Planet Money. And Adam Davidson talked with me about libertarianism in 2010 (plus a much longer version also featuring Mark Calabria).