Despite Chuck's Foolish pessimism about the future, he does make some good points in his bear argument. China is one of many important cogs that help keep the United States economy running smoothly, but even with its billion-plus population, the country accounts for less than 12% of all U.S. trade at the moment, so even any possible negative economic trade developments between the two countries will be minor compared with developments between the U.S. and Canada or the European Union, which, combined, accounted for more than 80% of all U.S. trade last year.
A weaker dollar, or even a stronger dollar for that matter, is not necessarily a bad omen for the U.S. economy and stock market, anyway. It really matters how an economy adjusts to the changing monetary and financial environment, and one solid rule any budding economist can follow is that if the adjustments to a new economic environment are gradual (rather than a shock like the 1970s oil-price shock or the Great Depression), then the change, whether it's interest-rate or currency movements, for example, will have a minimized impact on economic performance. Therefore, even if one takes the argument that rising interest rates are bad for the economy as true, the way that China is handling its currency by allowing it to rise slowly over time will cause minimal harm to both economies and give businesses the opportunity to transform to the changing environment.
I'll agree on one thing, though. If other foreigners do stop buying up U.S. government securities, that will cause interest rates to rise. The problem with using this as a bear argument for the economy is that foreign governments and banks have shown no less willingness to buy U.S. debt (and thus preventing the kind of inflationary environment that Chuck envisions), because interest rates in the E.U. and Japan, for instance, are barely 2% and 0%, respectively.
With the advances that have occurred in the past 20 years in the financial sector, government institutions and private corporations are better able to prevent or adjust to economic shocks without triggering meltdowns in the economy. If there are no unexpected negative economic shocks on the magnitude of a Hurricane Katrina, 2007 will prove to be another solid year for the U.S. and world equities markets.
It's unfortunate that this debate is limited to just a few hundred words, since economic forecasting and the world economy are such enjoyable topics to debate. For more Foolishness related to companies making their presence known in emerging markets, come and take a free trial offer to our Global Gains newsletter.
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Fool contributor Brian Lawler does not own shares of any company mentioned in this article.
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