Where we left off in the last
series of videos, we had the Chinese Central Bank that was
trying to make sure that the yuan does not appreciate
too much. So the way they did that is that
they bought up all of the excess dollars using yuan
that they printed. So what they do is, they print
yuan– I’ll do the yuan in this blue color– so they print
yuan, and then they use that printed yuan to buy dollars
in the open market. And what that does is it props
up the demand for dollars and keeps the price of yuan down,
so then they get dollars. So they print yuan and
they buy dollars. And as we saw, they have to keep
doing this in order to keep the yuan deflated,
or in order to keep the dollar inflated. And this is so that they
can maintain a favorable balance of trade. But as they do this, they’re
just building the stockpile of dollar reserves. And as we mentioned in the last
video, they’re not just keeping a big vault of
dollar bills there. They’re going to use it to buy
assets, and they’re going to buy liquid and safe assets. And the main asset they’re
going to buy is U.S. Treasury bills. So then they take these dollars
and they buy U.S. Treasury bills. And let me draw some of the
other actors here, because they can buy it from two
separate people. There is the United
States government. So there is the U.S. Treasury. They are going to issue Treasury
bills, when they essentially just need
to borrow money. And then there’s other people
that have already bought Treasury bills. So let me draw them over here. So then there are other people
who own Treasury bills. So this is someone who owns a
Treasury bill right over here, wearing a hat, maybe
with a little bit of hair and a moustache. So this is someone who
owns a Treasury bill. So just to give a review, when
the U.S. government wants to borrow money, people hand the
U.S. government money– I’ll draw it as a dollar bill, right
over there– they hand the U.S. Treasury money, and
then the U.S. Treasury gives them an IOU. This IOU is what a Treasury bill
is, and what it entitles the holder of this piece of
paper to, it allows them to get interest from the Treasury,
depending on what type of Treasury bill
or bond it will be. It’ll be over a certain
period of time. I have a whole video on this,
especially the ones where I talk about the yield curve. And then at some future date,
the U.S. Treasury is going to pay them a larger amount of
money than they put back in. So this right here is a
Treasury bond or bill. T-bill if it’s a shorter
duration, Treasury bond if it’s a longer duration. This is a Treasury bond. It is a loan to the
U.S. Treasury. Now, the Chinese Central
Bank, they have all these excess dollars. They can buy treasuries from
either two sources. When the U.S. Treasury itself
needs to raise funds, it will essentially put these
IOUs for auction. It will sell them to whoever
is willing to take them for the least interest. So let me
put it this way, so what they can do is they can give the
money directly to the U.S. Treasury, when the U.S. Treasury
puts Treasury bills or Treasury bonds
up for auction. So it can give the money
directly to the U.S. Treasury, and then the U.S. Treasury will
give them one of these IOUs, or it could buy it from
someone already has it out in the open market. This is a very deep, very,
very liquid open market. Or they can give these people
right over here money, and then they would transfer the IOU
over to this Central Bank. So what is happening at
the Central Bank? What is essentially
happening here? What’s essentially happening
is the Chinese Central Bank printing money to buy dollars
that it will then essentially lend to the U.S. Treasury. So it looks kind of convoluted,
but the essence of what is happening here is that
the Chinese government, you have the Chinese Central Bank
lending to the U.S. government. And it might be buying other
assets, but the Treasury bonds and bills are really the main
form of liquid asset they might be buying. So how does this affect the
United States, other than the fact that instead of owing other
investors these IOUs, it now owes it to the Chinese? But what is the net effect of
having this player out here, having this very significant
player out there, that is fairly aggressively willing to
pay for U.S. government IOUs, U.S. treasuries? What is the effect of that? Well, we saw in the yield curve
video that the more people willing to give you a
loan, the lower the interest rates are going to be. And I can show you a very
simple example of that. If I’m looking to borrow– and
I’m no longer talking about nations, I’m just talking about
Sal now– let’s say that I’m over here, and I’m looking
to borrow $10. And I say, hey, who’s willing
to give me the best deal on $10, and I’m going to pay
you back next week. So you might come along and say,
I’ll lend it to you for 10% interest over a week. So you can pay me
$11 next week. So this would essentially be
10% interest over the week. You give me $10 now, and if I
agree to you, then I’ll give you $11 in a week. That would be 10% interest. But then let’s say
Mary comes along. And she says, oh, I can do
better than Mr. Orange Guy over there. This is Mary. I’ll lend you $10, and you can
pay me $10.50 next week. So notice what happened. Both of these people
have $10 to lend. They’re looking to get some
return on their $10. If he was the only player here,
I’d have to go to him and say, OK I’m going to pay
you 10% interest. Then she says, no, no, no, I also have
$10 and, gee, I’d be happy with just a 5% return. $0.50 off of my $10 in one week,
that’s a good return. So right now, look
at this person. But the more money that’s
available to borrow, the more competitive this side of the
equation is going to be, and the lower the interest
rate I can get. You can imagine even a third
person says, no, no, no, wait! I’ve got $10. Let me draw this third person,
who says, I have $10, and you know what? It’s going to just be sitting
in my bank account doing nothing unless I
lend it to you. You can pay me, I don’t know,
$10.25 next week. And then I’m going to
go to this person. So the larger than the number
of people willing to lend to me, the lower my interest
rate will be. Or another way you could think
of it, the larger the supply of money to be lent, that leads
to lower– you can view it different ways. You could view it as lower
borrowing costs, which is another way of just saying lower
interest. Or you can even view it as cheaper money. It costs less to borrow
the money. The cost of borrowing money
is the interest. Now, what does that do? What does having
lower interest? So this is just a small example
with me trying to borrow $10. The more people there are, the
more competitive that is, the better interest rate I’ll have.
So you just take that same notion to kind
of a macro level. The U.S. government is
constantly borrowing money. The more people out there
willing to give it money, willing to buy the U.S.
government’s IOUs, the lower the interest rate will be. So the net effect of having
this major buyer of U.S. Treasuries is that having them
out there accumulating all of these dollars, taking them all
out of the foreign exchange markets and then using them to
buy treasuries, it lowers the interest rate for treasuries. So the net effect is the
U.S. Treasury has lower borrowing costs. So what does that mean? So let’s make it very clear. So the Chinese buy treasuries,
which are essentially loans to the U.S. government,
then the U.S. has lower borrowing costs. The U.S. has lower interest
or borrowing cost. And I’m talking about the government
right now. And this has several interesting
side effects. This means that it’s
easier for the government to finance deficits. They don’t have to
pay as much in interest to finance deficits. So that means that they
can spend more. They can give out more payments
to U.S. citizens, or they could lower taxes,
either one. Both of those would
lead to deficits. So it’s easier so that the
government can either spend more or they don’t have
to raise taxes. Or they could they could lower
taxes, because they don’t have to spend as much in interest. Now, the other interesting thing
that the U.S. Treasury borrowing costs go down, that
means that the interest rate on everything goes down. This is one of the benchmark
interest rates. And you should watch the video
on the yield curve if you want to understand more about it. And I know some of you are
saying, wait, doesn’t the Federal Reserve set
interest rates? The Federal Reserve only sets
overnight, very short-term. If you’re going to borrow money
overnight in your bank, that’s what the Federal
Reserve sets. If the U.S. government is
borrowing money over 5 or 10 years or 20 years, that
is that by the market. That is set by a market
mechanism very similar to what I showed just over here. So this is dependant
on more capital being there to be borrowed. So this is 10-year, and 15-year,
and 20-year debt for the U.S. becomes cheaper. But this makes all debt
in the U.S. cheaper. And there’s two ways
you can think about why this piece happens. One is, just on a very
superficial level, people say, hey, you know, someone like
General Electric is only a little bit more risky than
the U.S. government. If the U.S. government only has
to pay 3% on its on debt that it has to pay back in 10
years, maybe General Electric should only have to pay
0.3% more than that. So you use the U.S. government
as a baseline, and then depending on people’s
risk, they pay a little higher spread. Another way to think about
it is up here. The Chinese government is just
pouring dollars either directly into the U.S.
government, or into the actual U.S. Treasury market. So this guy right now,
he has more dollars. He’s not going to use the
Treasury, because he thinks treasuries are too expensive,
which means that their interest is too low. So he’s going to take these
dollars he got from the Chinese, and he’s going to
lend it to someone else. That dollar is still there. He’ll lend it to General
Electric, or maybe he’s a credit card company and he’ll
lend it to the consumer. So in general, all debt in
the U.S. gets cheaper. Now, what’s the net effect
of all of these points? What’s the net effect of
this, all debt in the U.S. Becomes cheaper? There’s just more dollars for
loan in the U.S., more dollars than people can borrow. The government is spending more,
or the government will lower taxes. What is the net effect
of all of this? Well, people will either have
more money in their pockets, because they’ve gotten a
government job or they’ve maybe gotten some type of
entitlement payment. Or, they’re going to have more
money in their pockets, because they’re paying
lower taxes. Or they’re going to have more
money in their pockets, because it’s easier for them
to put more debt on their credit card, or to refinance
their mortgage. So all of these lead to more
cash in American pockets. Now, that’s obviously not an
unambiguously good thing, because this is all financed
with debt. It’s not just solid
debt-free cash. So more cash in American
pockets essentially financed with debt. And this debt, as you can see,
it’s either occurring at the credit card level, it could
be occurring even at the corporate debt level, or it’s
occurring indirectly at the government level. But all of this is being enabled
by the fact that China is willing to buy treasuries,
which means that China is really just willing to
lend to the U.S. So what’s happening? China is artificially keeping
its currency low, and it’s doing that by buying dollars,
taking those dollars and essentially lending them
to the United States. And that eventually ends up in
the hands of American people and companies, and even
the government. And what are they going to do? Well, they’re going to buy cheap
Chinese products that are artificially cheap because
the currency is lower. And obviously, you know, they do
have lower labor costs and all of that, but it’s even lower
to the American than it would be if the currency were
allowed to freely float. So the net effect of this entire
scenario that I’ve been describing over the last few
videos, is that the Chinese are essentially lending money
to the Americans to then go ahead and buy more
Chinese products.