"It doesn't add up when the Americans accuse the Chinese of currency manipulation and then, with the help of their central bank's printing presses, artificially lower the value of the dollar."
-- German finance minster Wolfgang Schauble

Hear, hear. I'm surprised more haven't been making a bigger deal out of this.

It wasn't but a few weeks ago that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner sat before Congress and bemoaned China's currency, which he called "significantly undervalued." He explained: "By continuing to maintain a rigid exchange rate, China is impeding the adjustments needed to secure the strong, sustainable global growth we all need." And his solution: "China needs to allow significant, sustained appreciation over time to correct this undervaluation and allow the exchange rate to fully reflect market forces."

Got that? Currency manipulation is a no-no. It's unfair to global economies. It's bad for everyone. Do it, and we'll haul you before Congress and show the world how much of a jerk you are.

Enter the Federal Reserve's plan announced last week to purchase an additional $600 billion of Treasuries over the next several months, on top of the $1.7 trillion in government securities already purchased over the past two years.

This isn't purported manipulation, as is the case with China. This is fully telegraphed, rubbing-it-in-your-face manipulation at nearly the Hail Mary level.   

Whether explicitly stated or not, one of the goals of this plan is to drive down the value of the dollar, making our exports more competitive on the global market. U.S. companies that export abroad, from Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) to Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT) to ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM), can all gain significantly from a weaker dollar, boosting both corporate profits and domestic manufacturing. A weaker dollar is consistent with -- and an absolute necessity to -- President Barack Obama's laudable goal of doubling U.S. exports over the next five years. "To do that," Obama said in a Washington Post op-ed this weekend, "we need to find new customers in new markets for American-made goods."

But this goal isn't unique to America. Other countries would love to boost exports by weakening their currencies. Yet when they pursue it, we call it manipulation. When we pursue it, we call it monetary policy.

A touch hypocritical, don't you think?

Fool contributor Morgan Housel owns shares of ExxonMobil. Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. The Fool has established a bear put spread position on Caterpillar. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on Intel. The Fool owns shares of ExxonMobil and Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.