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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Meet Our Creditor

The man above is Gao Xiqing. He manages $2 billion out of the $2 trillion we owe China. James Fallows interviews him in this month's Atlantic. What does he think went wrong with his debtor friends across the pond?

People, especially Americans, started believing that they can live on other people’s money. And more and more so. First other people’s money in your own country. And then the savings rate comes down, and you start living on other people’s money from outside. At first it was the Japanese. Now the Chinese and the Middle Easterners.

We—the Chinese, the Middle Easterners, the Japanese—we can see this too. Okay, we’d love to support you guys—if it’s sustainable. But if it’s not, why should we be doing this? After we are gone, you cannot just go to the moon to get more money. So, forget it. Let’s change the way of living. [By which he meant: less debt, lower rewards for financial wizardry, more attention to the “real economy,” etc.]

We're the guy who wants the filet mignon on our $70 a day salary. He's the guy reminding us when the rent's due. Better start saving, America. 'Cause when Gao wants his money back, we'll think the events of the last two months were the good times.

I have to say, I kind of like our creditor. Give this to the Chinese, without having to appeal to voters or shareholders they rate very low on the bullshit scale.

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