America's Free Lunch is Over: How Should the Middle East invest its Rising Trade Surplus?

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Published in the June 2008 issue of The Gulf, a weekly business news magazine published in Bahrain, and in Counterpunch Every week Mid Eastern countries acquire more dollars in payment for their oil and other exports, and also for rising U.S. investment in their stock markets and other property. This confronts them with a problem: What can they do with these dollars? Traditionally, exporters have saved their export earnings by building up their assets. But is it still realistic for them to acquire more dollarized assets? Central banks throughout the world presently hold some $2.5 trillion of U.S. Treasury bonds, and another trillion dollars in private-sector U.S. dollar debt. As the dollar’s exchange rate falls, these banks suffer losses when their holdings are ...