That would have been an appropriate headline for a Washington Post article that essentially told readers that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner would focus on issues that matter to business in his discussions with Chinese leaders. The most important issue for workers in dealing with China is a drop in the value of the dollar relative to the yuan.
This would reduce the price of U.S. exports to people living in China and make imports from China more expensive. That would lead to more exports and fewer imports. Also, many other countries would likely follow the lead of China if it were to raise the value of its currency relative to the dollar. This would improve the U.S. trade balance overall. Economists agree that if the United States is to achieve full employment without large budget deficits or negative private savings, as we saw during the housing bubble years, this sort of adjustment is essential.
However the Post bizarrely told readers:
chief among the bright spots, according to the Treasury chief and many observers, has been progress toward closing the yawning trade deficit between the two countries. U.S. exports to China have almost doubled since the beginning of Obama’s term.
Actually, there has been zero progress towards closing the “yawning trade deficit.” The U.S. trade deficit with China in the first two months of 2012 was $45.4 billion, from $42.1 billion in 2011. This puts the U.S. on a path toward having yet another record trade deficit with China.
The piece then tells us in the passive tense:
Even the issue of getting China to stop pegging its currency to the dollar — a major source of tension a few years ago — has receded somewhat, as the value of China’s yuan has moderately increased against the U.S. dollar.
Actually, the issue doesn’t recede. Officials make a decision to de-emphasize it, which appears to be the case here.
The article then tells readers:
U.S. business leaders view this round of talks as a prime opportunity. Advocates of reform within the Chinese government are speaking up, they said, and the mood is positive following the recent visit to the United States of future leader Xi Jinping.
‘No other country presents China’s particular mix of opportunities and challenges,’ Geithner said last week in a speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. The Obama administration, he said, has made “significant progress” on its goals.
U.S.-China Business Council President John Frisbie said American companies are hoping the Chinese will agree to open discussions on a bilateral investment treaty that would allow foreign investors to take full ownership of Chinese firms.
I think that my headline much more accurately conveys the gist of the information presented in the article. Maybe the Post will correct the headline in its on-line version.