The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.
NEW YORK (
) -- U.S. politicians are always looking for an international bogeyman to blame for the country's problems. China, the world's largest surplus nation with 9% growth that Americans would die for, makes it a perfect candidate.
The senate recently passed a bill to punish China for currency manipulation. Obama has been wagging his finger at China to appreciate its currency. Mitt Romney said that on day one as president, he would sanction China as a currency manipulator. Meanwhile, the latest news is that with China's "real rate" of inflation, the yuan may not be overvalued anymore.
Michelle Bachmann suggested that the country was subsidizing China's military with the interest the U.S. was paying on the debt held by the Chinese. With 10-year Treasuries paying 2.02%, U.S. inflation at 3.3%, and the dollar's steady depreciation against major currencies, it looks like the Chinese are the ones doing the subsidizing.
In Obama's current Asian tour, he has been promoting the idea of a Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) that focuses on trade, but he is carefully leaving China out as punishment for something. You have to wonder who he is punishing. Leaving the U.S. aside the TPP's other six members combined had a 2010 GDP of 1.89 trillion and they have 150 million people.
Who was it that decided that Brunei with a GDP of 14 billion and 440,000 people should be in the TPP, but China with 1.34 billion people and a 2010 GDP of nearly $6 trillion should be out? Surely the Islamic state of Brunei with a Sultan who rules by decree has something to be punished for.
The Europeans have always taken the position that the best path for neutralizing an enemy is engaging with them, not antagonizing them. The best engagements are trade-related because this builds binding ties. Sounds like a good path. Surely it's as worthy as beefing up America's military presence in Australia.
One of the reasons expressed for the new presence in Australia is that China now has an aircraft carrier. It's an old Soviet warship that has been refitted. America has a modern fleet of eleven carriers. It's not that China's increasing military presence isn't something to watch, it's just that there is no need to overblow it. Analysts put China's military technology at 20 years behind.
No doubt that China is a new economic superstar, but it's wrong to lose sight that this is a developing country. Its per capita income is $4,382, making it the 92nd highest. Based on purchasing power parity, it is $7,544, making it the 94th highest in the world. Like any developing country, it has lots of struggles. The current one is trying to figure out how China can sustain economic development because its cheap labor is getting less cheap by the day. This challenge has felled many up and coming nations. The last thing the global economy needs is another big nation with economic woes.
Saber rattling is predictable in a campaign year but investors should be listening with skepticism. That is, unless a politician starts talking about the enormous benefits of the World's economic superpower building a solid partnership for mutual growth with the heir apparent.