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Chinese Surpluses and American Deficits: A Change in Global Imbalance

Jean-Pierre Cabannes Chercheur, Groupe d’économie mondiale (GEM), Sciences po Paris.
Jinghui Wang Assistante de recherche, GEM, Sciences po Paris.

Imbalances between the U.S. and China are in three areas: monetary, trade and economy. Two fundamentally different types of economy are the cause of all other imbalances. International trade and foreign investment (flows of goods and capital) transform these differences in trade surplus for China. In reality, a war of currencies between China and the U.S. would be a superficial conflict that hides deeper structural differences between the two economies. International trade transforms them into a quantitative monetary disequilibrium, which is much easier to observe. Today the situation of the United States requires as many internal changes as for his new competitor: China. However, the real challenge is to find out solutions domestically rather than internationally.

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1   9 826 675 km2 pour les États-Unis (source : CIA, The World Factbook) et 9 677 009 km2 pour la Chine (y compris Taiwan) (source : China Statistic Bureau).

2   1 330 141 295 km2 (estimation de juillet 2010) pour la Chine et 310 232 863 km2 (estimation de juillet 2010) pour les États-Unis (source : CIA, The World Factbook).

3   En 1978, 790 millions de Chinois sont enregistrés dans les zones rurales, contre 172 millions dans les zones urbaines (source : China Statistics Bureau).

4   Source : Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

5   Source : CIA, The World Factbook.

6   153,9 millions (source : CIA, The World Factbook).

7   Source : The US-China Business Council.

8   Selon le texte juridique Guide to Doing Business in China de Hong Kong Trade Development Council : « Processing trade refers to the business activity of importing all or part of the raw and auxiliary materials, parts and components, accessories, and packaging materials from abroad in bond, and re-exporting the finished products after processing or assembly by enterprises within the mainland. It includes processing with supplied materials and processing with imported materials. Under processing with supplied materials, the imported materials and parts are supplied by the foreign party which is also responsible for selling the finished products. The business enterprise does not have to make foreign exchange payment for the imports and only charges the foreign party a processing fee. Under processing with imported materials, the business enterprise makes foreign exchange payment for the imported materials and parts and exports the finished products after processing. »

9   Source : Federal Reserve Statistical Release, 5 décembre 2008.

10   Source : Time, no 44, 2010.

11   14 330 Md$ en 2009 (source : CIA, The World Factbook).

12   Source : Pew Economic Mobility Project.

13   Source : The New York Times, 6 janvier 2011.

14   Source : Le Monde, 15 février 2011.

15   Source : State Administration of Foreign Exchange of China.

16   Source : Department of the Treasury/Federal Reserve Boardt: Major Foreign Holders of Treasury Securities.

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