Thursday, February 15, 2007
Winning Friends & Influencing People
Ever wonder what China's doing with its $1 trillion-plus foreign exchange reserves? Well, they're using part of the loot, as this article explains, to buy influence with resource-rich countries through generous foreign aid packages. Aid packages that undercut World Bank and other development organizations by offering more money, with less oversight, to countries where public funds have a tendency to end up in Swiss bank accounts. These are the kinds of deals that, if Tony Soprano were arranging them, would be called graft. And as with all graft schemes, the folks who suffer the most are the ones who might otherwise have ended up with a functioning railroad system, or an environmentally-friendly power grid, but instead wind up with nothing at all, if not worse. Oh, and for what it's worth, our trade deficit with China for 2006 was a little over $232 billion. How do you say, "Don't spend it all in one place," in Chinese?