That’s the lesson that David Malpass of Encima Global LLC makes in today’s WSJ.
Some weak-dollar advocates believe that American workers will eventually get cheap enough in foreign-currency terms to win manufacturing jobs back. In practice, however, capital outflows overwhelm the trade flows, causing more job losses than cheap real wages create. This was the lesson of the British malaise, the Carter malaise, the Mexican malaise of the 1990s, Yeltsin’s Russian malaise through 1999 and the rest. No countries have devalued their way into prosperity, while many—Hong Kong, China, Australia today—have used stable money to invite capital and jobs.
The more the dollar devalued against the yen in the 1970s and ’80s, the more Japan gained share in valued-added manufacturing, using the capital from weak-currency countries to increase productivity. China is doing the same now. It watches in chagrin as the U.S. pleads with it to strengthen the yuan, adding productivity fast with the dollars rushing its way in search of currency stability.
And this is a lesson that very few retail investors will understand, but if they did, it would make them furious
If stocks double but the dollar loses half its value, who beyond Wall Street are the winners and losers? There’s been a clear demonstration this decade. The S&P nearly doubled from 2003 through 2007. Those who borrowed to buy won big-time. Rich people got richer, seeing their equity bottom line double. At the same time, the dollar’s value was cut nearly in half versus the euro and other stable measures. Capital fled, undercutting job growth. Rent, gasoline and food prices rose more than wages.
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