June 03, 2009

The Untold Story of the U.S.-China Financial Summit

By HARRIS SCHWED
Financial Rant

BEIJING -- U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan, and their respective subordinates engaged Tuesday in a financial summit between the world’s two economic superpowers, engaged in a “testy but ultimately useful discussion” during the talks, according to sources.

Despite the unusually frank nature of the back-and-forth, both sides agreed they had reached a consensus on the situation facing the two countries – namely, that the U.S. and China are completely and utterly stuck on their current course of action, whether they like it or not. A transcript of the exchange, which the Financial Rant obtained at great risk to its sources, makes this clear. The transcript follows:

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SECRETARY GEITHNER: That was a fun question and answer session with the kids at Peking University, Mr Vice Premier. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed being laughed at by a bunch of coddled Commie punks.
VICE PREMIER WANG: We are striving to achieve the openness you have in your own universities, Mr Secretary. We appreciate your patience with the students and trust they enjoyed the experience.
SEC GEITHNER: They certainly did enjoy it! That’s the problem. I’d be fine if a few of them enjoyed the experience of a re-education camp, that’s all I’m saying. I get enough of this crap back home.
VP WANG: You are right, of course, in that backbreaking agricultural labor often re-energizes the mind after strenuous months of studying. But we have many things to discuss.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SMITH: Which reminds me -- you got any of those barbecued pork bun thingies? Those rule.

(General agreement among American delegation).

ASSISTANT VICE PREMIER YU: Yeah, we just ordered some.
ASST. SEC. SMITH: Sweet!

(A break for char siu bau ensues).

SEC GEITHNER: Now, where were we? Oh, right. Yeah. Now, look. You know our credit’s good, right? AAA rating from Standard and Poors? The world’s largest economy and all that? A GDP of $13 trillion?
VP WANG: Uh, you owe us $768 billion.
SEC GEITHNER: Right! So a few more billion here and there won’t really make much difference.
VP WANG: Well, no, but look, this is kind of getting out of hand. Besides, it’s not like we can just foreclose on California if you decide some day that you won’t pay us.
SEC GEITHNER: Which reminds me – how would you like Guam?
VP WANG: GUAM?!
SEC GEITHNER: Sure, why not? I mean, what are we doing with it? None of us here has ever been to Guam, and none of us ever will. You could use it as, I don’t know, a base for shipping lanes or something. It’d be a steal at $75 billion.
VP WANG: For that kind of money, we could buy Hawaii!
SEC GEITHNER: Oh. Well, yeah, but think of the prestige value of buying Guam. It’d be kind of like when we bought the Gadsden Purchase from Mexico.
VP WANG: No it wouldn’t! It’s Guam!
SEC GEITHNER: How about the Aleutians?
VP WANG: No!
SEC GEITHNER: Well, just keep it in mind. Anyway, as I said today at the University, we’re committed to keeping a strong dollar, and –
VP WANG: (snaps at Geithner in Chinese)
SEC GEITHNER: (pauses; looks at translator)
TRANSLATOR: Uh … the vice-premier said he is certainly glad to hear of your commitment to your wise and well-considered strong dollar policy.
SEC GEITHNER: That’s not what he said.
TRANSLATOR: Uh …
SEC GEITHNER: Come on, what did he say?
VP WANG: “Bitch, please.” That’s what I said! You owe us $768 billion! And we all know you’re going to stealthily inflate its value away to nothing! Then where are we going to be? We’re going to have $768 billion worth of fancy covered toilet paper!
ASST. VP YU: And what the hell are we doing meeting here, anyway? I mean, here we have 768 billion of your dollars, and we can’t even go down to McDonald’s and get a hamburger. We should be meeting some place cool, like San Diego!

(General agreement among Chinese delegation).

ASST. VP YU: I mean, that would rule. Or Las Vegas. Can you imagine how cool it would be if we got to go to Las Vegas with like $100 billion? That would kick ass.
CHINESE DELEGATE: We always meet here! I wanted to visit Graceland!
SEC GEITHNER: You invited us!
VP WANG: Yes, because it was polite! But you were supposed to say you were busy and then invite us there for a rain check! Honestly, do you know nothing about how things work?
SEC GEITHNER: Oh, so now we’re supposed to read your minds. I see.
VP WANG: God, you’re worse than the French.
SEC GEITHNER: OK, so let’s talk for a bit. Let’s say we did go a bit crazy with the whole “creating money out of thin air” thing. So if we did that, wouldn’t that cause the yuan to eventually appreciate against the dollar?
VP WANG: Well, yeah, but not by much, because we’re not going to –
SEC GEITHNER: Work with me here. Now, I know that you know that I know that you’re manipulating your currency to keep it artificially cheap, and you do that by … oh, buying dollars. Isn’t that right? I mean, we’re cool with that, but doesn’t the stability of your economy depend on strong growth and job creation?
VP WANG: Well, we’re working on –
SEC GEITHNER: I mean, I forgot, how many of your citizens are living in impoverished rural areas? Oh, that’s right, 800 million or so?
VP WANG: That’s not relevant to our …
SEC GEITHNER: Aren’t most of those 800 million people really angry?
VP WANG: They’re not angry! They’re just ... well, slightly upset.
SEC GEITHNER: Well, guess how angry they would be if their friends and family members in the industrialized east all lost their jobs because Chinese goods would become super expensive to foreigners, and all the multinationals went elsewhere for their manufacturing needs? I’m not saying, I’m just saying.
VP WANG: Please. Where are the multinationals going to go? North Korea? Good luck with that. They’d get halfway through a production shift and everyone would have to go study the Wise and Glorious Revolutionary Principles of Great General Kim Jong-il, Steward of the Juche Idea.
SEC GEITHNER: They do that on their own time. There’s no overtime in North Korea!
VP WANG: Well, you’re still full of –
SEC GEITHNER: No, I’m not! You know full well what would happen if you stopped buying our Treasuries. Do you want 100 million angry people marching on the capital demanding work?

(Silence).

VP WANG: You know, we could use a few passenger jets.
SEC GEITHNER: How about Yellowstone?

In related news, the People’s Daily newspaper announced today that 43 students who attended Secretary Geithner’s lecture have been volunteered to pursue extended studies at Harmonious Agricultural Labor Camp No. 19 in Xinjiang province.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at June 3, 2009 10:40 AM | TrackBack
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