PIMCO CEO and co-CIO Mohamed El-Erian says the United States needs to tread carefully in its economic dealings with China in order to not upset that country’s growth.
“Simply put, the world cannot afford for China to stumble economically – especially when many industrial countries face multi-year balance-sheet rehabilitation. To this end, America must resist the temptation of ‘China bashing,’ and China must resist diverting attention back to America's problems,” El-Erian wrote in his monthly commentary for PIMCO and in The Washington Post. “Instead, both countries should collectively look forward, with two points playing a key role in guiding strategic interactions.”
The bilateral relationship is a complicated and interdependent one, he notes. These words of advice came soon after the U.S. House moved last week to impose sanctions on countries, such as China, that are perceived as currency manipulators.
“It is in virtually no country's interest – including that of the United States – for China's economic development to derail. China is the world's strongest growth engine, its largest creditor and its biggest trade partner,” he wrote.
“Chinese products provide cost-effective solutions to the demands of consumers around the world, and China's continued willingness to exchange domestically produced goods for paper claims issued by other countries allows these countries to maintain economic activity well above what would otherwise be possible,” he explained.
Like China, other emerging markets are playing a crucial role in helping the United States and other regions avoid a second recession, as well as a prolonged slump.
“We should also not underestimate its global multiplier effect. Confidence in the ability to benefit from China drives success, self-confidence and economic growth elsewhere – especially in emerging economies such as Brazil and in industrial countries such as Germany,” El-Erian wrote.
Instead of lecturing China on its exchange rate, he says, the United States should do more to engage China in efforts with its European allies and with the International Monetary Fund.
“It would be a mistake to underestimate the importance of greater strategic thoughtfulness on China-U.S. economic issues,” El-Erian concluded.