The Great American Asset Transfer continues
An agricultural firm in Ames, Iowa, has been sold to BASF for $1.02 billion. More and more of these sales of American companies and assets to foreign buyers should be expected. America's gargantuan trade deficit has shipped dollars overseas, and the people holding those dollars are looking for useful things to do with them. Meanwhile, American Baby Boomers are in an asset-selling mood as they shift from work to retirement. Meanwhile, with the European economy broadly uncertain, the Chinese market in a slowdown (or worse, depending on who's telling the truth), India in a slow-growth mode, and Russia back under Vladimir Putin (thus putting the future of things like the rule of law and free markets there under considerable doubt), a lot of people are going to look at the United States and decide that this market is the best around. We will look back on this period some day and realize what a mammoth asset transfer took place without a great deal of public notice. ■ This isn't a call for panic or anything -- Americans own about $7 trillion in assets abroad, and the rest of the world has about $12.5 trillion invested here. A full $5 trillion of that is in Federal government debt. But we should get ready to see a flow of $20 billion a month or more in foreign purchases of American companies. Foreign ownership of American securities is at a record high already, and there's no reason to believe that's going to reverse course. Mountains of cash are leaving China, and that's not going to be the only country in an acquisitive mood.
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