(7/20/2015) Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, has the chance to play a role for his country analogous to the roles played by Korean President Kim Dae Jung in 1997 and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in 2002. Continue reading
(3/23/2015) We are at the 30th anniversary of the 1985 Plaza Accord. It was the most dramatic intervention in the foreign exchange market since Nixon originally floated the US currency. At the end of February 1985 the dollar reached dizzying heights, which remain a record to this day. Then it began a long depreciation, encouraged by a shift in policy under the new Treasury Secretary, James Baker, and pushed down by G-5 foreign exchange intervention. People remember only the September 1985 meeting at the Plaza Hotel in New York City that ratified the policy shift; so celebrations of the 30th anniversary will wait until this coming fall.
The dollar has appreciated sharply over the last year, surpassing its ten-year high. Some are suggesting it may be time for a new Plaza, to bring the dollar down. In its on-line “Room for Debate,” the New York Times asked, “Will a strong dollar hurt the economy and should the Fed take action?” Here is my response: Continue reading
(2/23/2015) A rare issue on which the two parties in the US Congress agree is the problem of “currency manipulation,” especially on the part of China. Perhaps spurred by the 2014 appreciation of the dollar and the first signs of a resulting loss of American net exports, Congress is once again considering legislation to attack currencies that are seen as unfairly undervalued. The proposed measures include the threat of countervailing duties against imports from offending countries, although that would be inconsistent with international trading rules.
Even if one accepts the possibility of identifying a currency that is manipulated, however, China no longer qualifies. Continue reading