The Great Debate UK

from MacroScope:

Is it time to ditch the dollar?

Judging from the draft communique of the G8 leaders meeting in L'Aquila, no one is in a particular hurry to talk about ending the domination of the dollar in world  currency reserves.  Our correspondents at the Italian summit report that the debate being pushed by China and others is likely to be played down.

But the genie is out of the bottle. Beforehand, Beijing floated the idea of alternative to the dollar. Russia and Brazil weighed in with some thoughts. The United Nations also acknowledged earlier this year the desire of some countries for a "more efficient reserve system" in a series of proposals for global financial reform.

This issue is laid out in a Q&A here.

What do you think? Is it time to ditch the dollar? Is it doomed as a reserve currency over the long term?

G8 signals end to dollar supremacy

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john_kemp- John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own. -

Reports that China has asked for a discussion about reserve currencies at next week’s expanded Group of Eight summit in Italy has added to confusion about whether the country wants to dethrone the dollar from its status as the world’s sole reserve currency. But the very fact the issue has been pushed onto the agenda suggests that a fundamental shift is underway.

Given the U.S. government’s enormous borrowing requirements over the next decade to cover the bank bailout, fiscal stimulus and deficits in Social Security and Medicare, the dollar’s reserve status depends on emerging markets’ continued willingness to accumulate U.S. liabilities rather than switching to other stores of value, such as the euro or the IMF’s Special Drawing Right (SDR).

from The Great Debate:

China risks overcooking the economy

Wei Gu-- Wei Gu is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are her own --

While China has been outspoken in expressing concern about the United States printing too much money, those worries might be better focused at home. No country beats China when it comes to effective monetary easing.

Beijing has scrapped lending quotas, adopted a loose monetary policy and kept interest rates at a four-year low to boost liquidity and promote growth. The policy has worked. China has lent out more money in the first four months of this year than the whole of 2008. Money growth in China is up more than 25 percent this year, versus about 10 percent in the United States.  Click here for a related graph.

from The Great Debate:

China’s Web filtering starts in the West

Eric Auchard-- Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own --

The Chinese government has backed away from mandating filtering software on all personal computers in China, in a move that averts a dangerous escalation in its censorship powers.

But however controversial and unworkable China's plan to require Internet filters on PCs proved to be, Western firms have largely themselves to blame for creating and selling such filters in the first place.

from Events:

Paris Air Show: Europe, when will you reach the stars?

-Maria Sheahan is a Reuters senior correspondent in Frankfurt.-

So far, Europe has left it up to the United States, Russia and China to send people into space. But almost 50 years after Russia's Yuri Gagarin made his first orbit around the earth, it's about time that Europe finally enter the playing field, some say.

"Europe cannot stay out of manned (space) flight forever," EADS unit Astrium Space Transportation's CEO Alain Charmeau said at the Paris Air Show. Europe has its own space agency, ESA; it has its own module on the International Space Station; and it has sent its astronauts into space as passengers on the spacecraft of others.

from The Great Debate:

Bet on small firms to lead China global foray

Wei Gu--Wei Gu is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are her own--

Chairman Mao used to say the truth is always kept by the minority.

A little-known private Chinese machinery company's bid for a GM marque has been sneered at by even the patriotic Chinese media, but the deal could succeed where mightier plays like Chinalco's for Rio Tinto have failed.

True that private sector firms face an uphill battle in China against more dominant state-backed firms, but it seems like double standards when Western observers, who extol the virtues of the private sector taking the driver's seat, praise Chinalco's deal but dismiss Tengzhong's bid for Hummer.

from The Great Debate:

China’s U.S. debt overhang needs Chinese cure

Wei Gu -- Wei Gu is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are her own. --

When U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told students at Peking University that China's holdings of U.S. Treasury bonds were safe, his answer drew loud laughter from the audience.

Even economist and columnist Paul Krugman, who is often critical of U.S. economic policy, found himself defending America when he was repeatedly asked the same questions in China recently: Will you (U.S.) underwrite the value of China's holdings of U.S. government debt? Will you be prepared to pay a much higher rate of interest against the risk of high inflation and dollar depreciation?

from The Great Debate:

The ugly attraction of fast shrinking Japan

James Saft Great Debate -- James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

Sure, seeing your economy shrink at a 15 percent annual clip is depressing, quite literally, but if you believe in even a tepid global economic recovery in the second half, then Japan is actually attractive.

There is no way to sugar coat the first quarter Japanese gross domestic product figures released on Wednesday: they are breathtakingly bad viewed from virtually any angle.

from The Great Debate:

Time for China to act on foreign listings

wei_gu_debate-- Wei Gu is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are her own --

China has talked about plans to allow foreign companies to float on its domestic stock markets for at least a decade, but that's all there has been: talk.

Now would be a good time to convert some of that talk into action. Beijing has been struggling with its own investment strategies: the state gets feeble returns on the U.S. Treasury bonds it owns, and its equity stakes in foreign financial firms are well under water.

Rio’s charm offensive

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REUTERSJan Du Plessis, the man parachuted into the chair at Rio Tinto from British American Tobacco (they’ve so much in common), has spent a day on a charm offensive with the big shareholders in the mining group.

This Chinese deal is marvelous, he’s telling them. Not only do we get a fine price for selling what are merely minority, passive stakes in our mines, but just think of what we’ll be able to dig up in China with a powerful local to open the doors for us.

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