Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Au Revoir, Brad Setser

. Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The blogosphere loses a titan to the National Economic Council:

I have accepted a new job, one that will require a certain level of discretion. I am excited by its challenges: ‘Balanced and sustainable” growth is something that I believe in. But suspending this blog is still hard. ...

Fundamentally this blog was about an issue – the United States’ trade deficit, the offsetting trade surpluses in other parts of the world and the capital flows that made this sustained “imbalance” possible. Most of my early blog posts argued, in one way or another, that taking on external debt to finance a housing and consumption boom wasn’t the best of ideas. Even if (or especially if) the deficit was financed by governments rather than private markets.

I always intended to write extensively about the world’s emerging markets. I never anticipated that I would end up writing most frequently about an emerging economy that I hardly knew when I first started writing this blog: China. Back in 2004, I was an expert on sovereign debt, not sovereign wealth. But some stories seize you. And China’s rise as a global creditor was just that story. I never thought China’s government would ever add close to $800 billion to its foreign assets over four quarters — accumulate close to $2,500 billion in foreign assets. China has stretched all definitions of the possible. There is – understandably – an enormous amount of interest in the consequences of a world where China is the world’s key creditor country; that, more than anything, seemed to drive this blog’s traffic.

The U.S. government is gaining a superb analyst, but the private commentariat is losing one. For years, Setser has been my go-to guy on China, sovereign wealth funds, sovereign debt, trade flows, balance of payments, currency adjustments, and other issues. Hopefully someone new will step into the breach, and hopefully Setser can do some good at NEC.

For a recent example of Setser's work, see this post from a few days ago on "Geoeconomics", or "anything that touches on both the economy and geopolitics". (sounds a lot like IPE to me.)


Au Revoir, Brad Setser




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