Geithner’s Letter to G-20 on ‘External Imbalances’

They’ve always been completely out of paradigm on domestic federal budgets. But this time around their ignorance has already been costly beyond imagination and looks to only get more so.

Geithner is just symptomatic of all that’s wrong with the mainstream’s understanding of monetary operations.

And I haven’t heard a single mainstream economist who’s got it right on the budget issue or the trade issue.

With the hawks and doves agreeing that federal deficits are a long term problem the obvious fundamental that imports are real benefits and exports real costs gets no consideration.

The trade war is a direct result of not understanding that domestic demand can always be continuously sustained by fiscal adjustments to the direct benefit of that economy.

The rest of the world’s desire to net export to us opens the door for unimagined US prosperity. With a full payroll tax (FICA) suspension we’d probably have enough domestic demand to buy all the goods and services we could produce at full employment plus all we wanted to buy from the rest of the world. And, if not, taxes could be lower still.

Geithner’s Letter to G-20 on ‘External Imbalances’: (Full Text)

Oct. 22 (Bloomberg) — The following is a reformatted
letter dated Oct. 20 from U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F.
Geithner to other officials in the Group of 20 industrial and
emerging economies. G-20 finance ministers and central bankers
are meeting today and tomorrow in Gyeongju, South Korea.

Dear G-20 Colleagues:

I am writing to offer some suggestions for our meeting later
this week. We are obviously at a moment where the world is
looking to the G-20 to provide a stronger commitment to work
together to address the major challenges to a sustainable global
recovery. I know that some of you will want to reserve any
substantive agreement until the November Leaders’ Summit, but I
think we should take advantage of the presence of the central
bank governors to try to reach agreement on the broad elements
this weekend, and put those in a report to our Leaders.

Building on Pittsburgh’s Framework for Strong, Sustainable, and
Balanced Growth and Toronto’s commitments on addressing
sovereign debt sustainability, here are three specific
suggestions designed to provide a stronger framework of
cooperation on international financial issues:

First, G-20 countries should commit to undertake policies
consistent with reducing external imbalances below a specified
share of GDP over the next few years, recognizing that some
exceptions may be required for countries that are structurally
large exporters of raw materials. This means that G-20 countries
running persistent deficits should boost national savings by
adopting credible medium-term fiscal targets consistent with
sustainable debt levels and by strengthening export performance.
Conversely, G-20 countries with persistent surpluses should
undertake structural, fiscal, and exchange rate policies to
boost domestic sources of growth and support global demand.
Since our current account balances depend on our own policy
choices as well as on the policies pursued by other G-20
countries, these commitments require a cooperative effort.

Second, to facilitate the orderly rebalancing of global demand,
G-20 countries should commit to refrain from exchange rate
policies designed to achieve competitive advantage by either
weakening their currency or preventing appreciation of an
undervalued currency. G-20 emerging market countries with
significantly undervalued currencies and adequate precautionary
reserves need to allow their exchange rates to adjust fully over
time to levels consistent with economic fundamentals. G-20
advanced countries will work to ensure against excessive
volatility and disorderly movements in exchange rates. Together
these actions should reduce the risk of excessive volatility in
capital flows for emerging economies that have flexible exchange

Third, the G-20 should call on the IMF to assume a special role
in monitoring progress on our commitments. The IMF should
publish a semiannual report assessing G-20 countries’ progress
toward the agreed objectives on external sustainability and the
consistency of countries’ exchange rate, capital account,
structural, and fiscal policies toward meeting those objectives.

With progress on these fronts, we should reach final agreement
on an ambitious package of reforms to strengthen the IMF’s
financial resources and its financial tools, and to reform the
governance structure to increase the voice and representation of
dynamic emerging economies.


Timothy F. Geithner