It is no secret to anyone that as we said some 3 years ago, the world is now engaged in all out currency warfare whose sole goal is destroying one’s own currency faster and more brutally than “the other guy” can. Because while devaluing one’s currency is imperative in order to return to a viable debt load, about $40 trillion less than where it is now (as per BCG) by pushing monetary inflation upon one’s people and inflating said debt away, just as important is to stimulate one’s economy and exports which, all else equal, can only be done by making them cheaper to one’s trading partners. It is, after all, a zero sum world.
This is precisely the tug of war that the developed world is caught in currently, where every attempt is made to talk down one’s currency, and when that fails, to dilute it by printing more of it (the Fed), to backstop it with collateral of every lower quality (the ECB, although in Europe’s case it is more of an involuntary phenomenon), or just to talk, and talk, ant talk (Japan).
Yet while every country with a self-respecting central bank (i.e., currency printer) hopes that they will be the ultimate winner of the currency debasement export race, what has become obvious over the past 30 years, is that when it comes to specializing in exports, there is just one true winner: a winner which is self-evident from the chart below.
So the question becomes: while everyone is scrambling for the peanuts and breadcrumbs of marginal exports while injecting trillions, then quadrillions, then quintillions and so on, to make their exports “attractive”, is China merely sitting on the sidelines and smiling, knowing well that when it comes to Ricardian dynamics, there is nobody who can ever catch up or slow down its momentum, benefiting from a (still) cheap labor force that is second to none, and an unprecedented work ethic (the lack of a social safety net does miracles for motivation), even if every country destroys their economy in the process of trying to catch up?
Of course, when every other country’s economy implodes, that means the traditional Chinese export partners will no longer exist, and the country will finally have no choice but ending its mercantilist ways, and actually focusing on internal growth. But China, like the US in so many other things, will only cross that particular bridge when it has no other choice.