The Herald Bulletin

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Columns

January 17, 2014

'Big Joe' Clark: America's ironic request to Germany

Americans are hard-working people and understand the power of investing. We now have more households investing in equities via retirement plans and direct investing than not. That is a good thing. In my opinion, the weak link in our understanding of investment is currency exchange. Americans seem to miss that fundamental and required understanding when dealing with the global economy.

We receive many questions about the value America being the world’s reserve currency, if we will lose that title and how such a loss would impact us. The answer is yes, we will lose it but not because somebody else will take it. A unit of any currency will always go to where it is best served as long as it’s allowed to move freely. “Best served” means that as long as regulatory bodies and governments don't get in the way, the change will be a welcomed one and global trade will be better for it.

The topic of global trade is a confusing one for high school economic students, let alone politicians! We seem to always have legislative bodies declaring foul play when things don't seem "fair" (with "fair" usually defined by whether something increases or decreases the likelihood of re-election). The current German economy and America’s response is the perfect example. The situation would be humorous if only the stakes weren't so high.

Germany currently runs the world’s largest trade surplus. That means that the world buys more products and services from Germany than Germany buys from the rest of the world. Simply put, Germany exports far more than it imports. That sounds like a recipe for success but others aren't so prepared to give them a gold star. In fact, our leaders are criticizing Germany for not spending more and for failing to help the world economy improve! Seriously. You can't make this stuff up!

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