Christina Romer: plain talk on the US dollar

Romer in the NYT Economic View, an excerpt:

(…) Fed policy is determined by inflation and unemployment in the United States. But if Mr. Bernanke could discuss the exchange rate openly, he would probably tell you that one way any monetary expansion helps a distressed economy is by weakening the dollar. That is taught in every introductory economics course, yet the Fed is asked to pretend it isn’t true.

Likewise, fiscal policy is determined by domestic considerations. But trimming our budget deficit, as we should over the coming years, would also weaken the dollar. And that, in turn, would blunt the negative impact of deficit reduction on employment and output in the short run.

STRANGELY, every politician seems to understand that it would be desirable for the dollar to weaken against one particular currency: the Chinese renminbi. For years, China has deliberately accumulated United States Treasury bonds to keep the dollar’s value high in renminbi terms. The United States would export more and grow faster if China allowed the dollar’s price to fall. Congress routinely threatens retaliation if China doesn’t take steps that amount to weakening the dollar.

But in the very next breath, the same members of Congress shout about the importance of a strong dollar. If a decline in its value relative to the renminbi would be beneficial, a fall relative to the currency of many countries would help even more in the current situation.

To say this openly risks being branded not just an extremist but possibly un-American. Perhaps it is time for a more adult conversation. The exchange rate is the purview of market economics, not of the Treasury or strong-dollar ideologues.

1 thought on “Christina Romer: plain talk on the US dollar

  1. Adult conversation is unamerican.

    A weak dollar would drive a lot of currently exported production back into the US and would provide a massive boon for the tourist sector and large exporters like GE, Intel, Microsoft and Boeing. It would almost offset the massive fuel cost increases we’ll be paying due to three decades of deliberate non-investment in efficiency and domestic production.

Comments are closed.