U.S. foreign aid does not go as far as it did. And there is an element of comedy in seeing the United States going to Beijing to borrow dollars, thus putting our children deeper in debt, to send still more foreign aid to African despots who routinely vote the Chinese line at the United Nations.
The Chinese, whose currency is tied to the dollar, and Japan will continue, as long as they can, to keep their currencies low against the dollar. For the Asians think long term, and their goals are strategic.
China -- growing at 10 percent a year for two decades and now growing at close to 12 percent -- is willing to take losses in the value of the dollars it holds to keep the U.S. technology, factories and jobs pouring in, as their exports capture America's markets from U.S. producers.
The Japanese will take some loss in the value of their dollar hoard to take down Chrysler, Ford and GM, and capture the U.S. auto market as they captured our TV, camera and computer chip markets.
Asians understand that what is important is not who consumes the apples, but who owns the orchard.
Other nations that have kept cash reserves in U.S. Treasury bonds and T-bills are watching the value of these assets sink. Not fools, they will begin, as many already have, to divest and diversify, taking in fewer dollars and more euros and yen. As more nations abandon the dollar, its decline will continue.
The oil-producing and exporting nations, with trade surpluses, like China, have also begun to take the stash of dollars they have and stuff them into sovereign wealth funds, and use these immense and growing funds to buy up real assets in the United States -- investment banks and American companies.
Nor is there any end in sight to the sinking of the dollar. For, as foreigners demand more dollars for the oil and goods they sell us, the trade deficit will not fall. And as the U.S. government prints more and more dollars to cover the budget deficits that stretch out -- with the coming retirement of the baby boomers -- all the way to the horizon, the value of the dollar will fall. And as Ben Bernanke at the Fed tries to keep interest rates low, to keep the U.S. economy from sputtering out in the credit crunch, the value of the dollar will fall.
The chickens of free trade are coming home to roost.