Beijing was the first to call for a new global currency as an alternative to the US dollar as the US deficit rocketed -- the White House estimates it could reach nine trillion dollars over a decade.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao expressed concern as early as March over the safety of his country's huge US bond holdings now worth more than 800 billion dollars, making it the largest creditor to the United States.
Then, Chinese central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan, who supervises more than two trillion dollars worth of dollar reserves, the world's largest, raised the stakes by calling for a new reserve currency in place of the dollar.
At first glance it seems scary for America- countries like China would stop buying our debt. This move, however, is seemingly entirely political.
Even as he made the proposal, Chinese central banker Zhou Xiaochun acknowledged that it would require "extraordinary political vision and courage." That is diplomatic speak for "We know this is impossible." The fact that Zhou and his Russian counterpart in proposing the idea, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, placed the timeline for the change far in the future--30 years in the case of Kudrin--offers an additional strong clue that the proposal is politically motivated rather than intended to address a real and pressing economic problem.
There are many reasons why they are upset, and I see why. It seems that current US Fiscal and Monetary policies are scaring them.
For both Zhou and Kudrin, an attack on the dollar just before the G-20 economic summit is a great theatrical device with which to express displeasure at U.S. dominance of the international financial system. It is also a marker of their unhappiness with the ineffective U.S. approach to restoring world growth and protecting international trade and financial flows, sending a clear signal that they have no intention of rubber-stamping U.S. proposals at the summit.
Let's hope President Obama gets the message. A speech about how great America is won't fix this, unfortunately for Pres. Obama, it is going to require better policy.