And I have bad news for the United States: Rebalancing won't be the relatively pain-free process some in Washington hope. Faced with an increasingly ugly bilateral trade deficit, many of the most senior U.S. officials -- including many who should know better -- have repeatedly called on the Chinese leadership to empower Chinese consumers to buy more Chinese-made products and to allow the renminbi, China's currency, to appreciate to help them afford it. The Foreign Policy Survey results reported here also suggest Washington is on solid ground: Nearly 100 percent of the leading economists consulted told the magazine they think the renminbi is undervalued.

But in reality it's hard to imagine a better example of "be careful what you wish for."

In the most profound financial change in recent Middle East history, Gulf Arabs are planning – along with China, Russia, Japan and France – to end dollar dealings for oil, moving instead to a basket of currencies including the Japanese yen and Chinese yuan, the euro, gold and a new, unified currency planned for nations in the Gulf Co-operation Council, including Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Qatar.

The American consumer has for decades served as the engine of world commerce, using borrowed cash to snap up the accouterments of modern living [...] Eliminate the American wherewithal to shop, and the pain would ripple out to multiple shores.

China holds over one trillion dollars, and Japan almost one trillion, in dollar-denominated assets.

Other countries have lesser but still substantial amounts. As the US dollar is the reserve currency, the entire world’s investment portfolio is over-wei

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