Sunday, July 06, 2008

Gustav Cassel - PPP's - China?

Gustav Cassel - PPP's - China?___An older article, updated and re-published, yet still very pertinent...
Over the past week I have posted several articles about the international financial architecture, the IMF, WTO, sweatshops, FTAA, etc. I felt I should expand my ideas to bring more clarity to these posts. I thought I'd use the case of China - U.S. trade and purchasing power parities. Below is quoted a few lines about Professor Cassel, the creator of purchasing power parity theory. I feel this is the most important economic theory, especially in trying to understand the global labor and wealth arbitrage now going on in the world. Many have argued trade will eventually rebalance markets. As I have already pointed out in a recent post, "the glaring imbalances in global wages is beyond economic reality, no matter what other economists' dribble may say. This sweatshop situation will almost empty America of jobs befor trade realities rebalance markets to fair global ppp's if let to continue." Let me expand.

Let's just take Wall-Mart for an example as it is the largest corporate footprint between the U.S. and China trade and economic realities - close to a trillion dollar corporation. It would be one thing if we only had to deal with a currency value at 6.86 to 1. It's quite another when the internal value of that currency is another 25 to 50 times cheaper[depending on location in China] than ours, making real wages for Wall-Mart sweatshops at an average of 10 cents/hr. to an average of 25 cents/hr. for their retail stores' workers in China(86 cents average for entire country). I think all the economists writing on this subject should get a handle on it by rereading Professor Cassel's books again. They may wake up and come to different conclusions about trade and economic realities being able to rebalance world markets over time - how much time, a hundred years? China is in real deflation, while also inflating, making matters worse, not better. They have lost 22million jobs, themselves. World demand has shrunk tremendously since the crashes of `95 to 2002. We have never been here befor as Edward Hugh often points out.(Much of this needs updating, but the point remains, massive losses of jobs in certain sectors, as other sectors add more workers, yet overall decrease of jobs, even today).

The NGO's around the world are trying to wake up everyone, but the sleep seems to be a Rip-Van-Winkle reality. Befor the Elite Consensus awakens we will have arbitraged every democracy in the world to corporatocracy(and communism). Do we want that? America has been nothing but a giant dump truck full of corporations, with the body slowly going up for the last thirty years, spewing extractive corporations to every nation. No one wants them coming in and destroying but they are there doing just that. Now at this point economists and others will scream what are you a kook? No, I am not. I am simply pointing out a powerful economic reality. It is impossible to build locally, or nationally fast enough to keep up with the international economic extractive capabilites of the corporations. As Steven Roach pointed out, global trade has risen from 11% of global GDP in 1970 to 25% of global GDP in 2003(and when derivatives are added in, a massive 95+%), with no end in sight. Pretty soon the oceans and skys are going to be overfull with cargo carriers, polluting and using massive amounts of our precious fossil fuels, for nothing other than infectious greed.

Corporations operating out of China are making as high as 40 to 90 cents profit on every dollar. This is outrageous, and it will not stop, and they surely arent sharing out of the 37+ tax havens. Not only are they not sharing the wealth but the internation dynamics of credit producitvity and multiplication factors of drastically reduced reserve requirements' banking, is contributing to an ever faster creation of massive asset bubbles that will surely end in crashes, sooner or later. The major question is how soon, and where?

Now if anyone still thinks trade will rebalance world markets in a climate of global deflation, of 31million manufacturing jobs vanished from 1995 to 2002, let me know. Even if the currencies between China and the U.S. were floated and reached 1 to 1 the internal ppp values would still allow corporations plenty of profit to continue the madness for years to come. An does anyone seriously think the U.S., or other nations, is going to let the dollar become cheaper than the yuan? It would have to be .87, or there abouts, to the dollar to balance ppp's, and truly rebalance these markets. This is why I say this situation is beyond economic realities' solutions - future crash guaranteed if let to continue.

Gustav Cassel

Gustav Cassel, a Swedish economist, developed the theory of exchange rates known as purchasing power parity. He did so in some post-World War I memoranda for the League of Nations. The basic concept can be made clear with an example. If 2 U.S. dollars buy one bushel of wheat in the United States, and if 1.6 German marks exchange for 1 U.S. dollar, then the price of a bushel of wheat in Germany should be 3.2 German marks (2 * 1.6). In other words, there should be parity between the purchasing power of one U.S. dollar in the United States and the purchasing power of its exchange value in Germany.

Cassel believed that if an exchange rate was not at parity, it was in disequilibrium and that either the exchange rate or the purchasing power would adjust until parity was achieved. The reason is arbitrage. If wheat sold for $2.00 in the United States and for DM4 ($2.50) in Germany, then arbitragers could buy wheat in the United States and sell it in Germany and would do so until the price differential was eliminated.

Economists now realize that purchasing power parity would hold if all of a country's goods were traded internationally. But most goods are not. If the price of a hamburger in the United States was $1.00 and in Germany was $1.50, arbitragers would not buy hamburgers in the United States and resell them in Germany. Transportation costs and storage costs would more than wipe out the gain from arbitrage. Nevertheless, economists still take seriously the concept of purchasing power parity. They often use it as a starting point for predicting exchange rate changes. If, for example, Israel's annual inflation rate is 20 percent and the U.S. inflation rate is 4 percent, chances are high that the Israeli shekel will lose value in exchange for the U.S. dollar. ....Article Continued

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