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Here's what China can buy with $3 trn forex

Last updated on: May 4, 2011 12:38 IST

Here's what China can buy with $3-trn forex

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At the end of March 2011, China's foreign exchange reserves scaled a new peak. They shot past $3 trillion (about Rs 135 trillion!).

And despite the fact that China showed a trade deficit in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2011, the Chinese central bank figures reveal that its forex reserves touched the gargantuan figure of $3.0447 trillion.

Financial magazine The Economist recently ran an article that spoke of what the Asian giant could buy with the mountain of forex reserves it has at its disposal. On the calculations it made, the magazine said: 'These frivolous calculations illustrate the vast scale of China's reserves but also the great difficulty it faces in diversifying them.'

So, what can China, which keeps most of its foreign reserves in the United States government securities, buy with its $3 trillion forex reserves?

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Image: China has more than $3 trillion in foreign reserve.
Photographs: Reuters
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Here's what China can buy with $3 trn forex

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With $3 trillion foreign reserves, China can gift one Tata Nano each to every Indian (yes, each of the 1.23 billion Indians) and still have change for year's worth of average petrol consumption.

With just one generous act, it can not only put all Indian on the fast track, it can also push traffic congestion beyond bearable.

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Image: China can gift a Nano each to every Indian.
Photographs: Reuters
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Here's what China can buy with $3 trn forex

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China could buy all of the outstanding sovereign debt of Spain, Ireland, Portugal and Greece, solving the euro area's debt crisis in a trice, says The Economist.

And it would still have almost half of its reserves left over.

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Image: China can solve debt problems of the euro zone.
Photographs: Reuters
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Here's what China can buy with $3 trn forex

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Instead of buying up debt, China can buy equity. Meaning, instead of putting most of its reserves into US government securities, China could instead go on a shopping spree in the corporate world. 

It can gobble up Apple, Microsoft, IBM and Google for less than $1 trillion. By buying all the major corporations, it can dictate terms and prices to the world. Hmmm...

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Image: China can buy top multinational companies.
Photographs: Reuters
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Here's what China can buy with $3 trn forex

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It can go the way sheikhs and oligarchs are going and acquire sport clubs.

According to Forbes magazine, the 50 most valuable sports franchises around the world are worth around $50.4 billion in 2010, less than 2 per cent of China's foreign exchange reserves.

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Image: China can acquire all the big sport clubs.
Photographs: Reuters
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Here's what China can buy with $3 trn forex

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Rich love buying property, and nobody is richer than China -- at least in terms of the foreign exchange reserves it sits on. .  so it can acquire hot property.

China can buy all of Manhattan, calculated The Economist. The island's taxable real estate is worth only $287 billion, according to the New York City government.

The properties of Washington, DC, are valued at just $232 billion. China can go from being America's banker to its landlord, The Economist said.

With over Rs 1,35,00,000 crore at its disposal, you can very well figure out how many 2-bedroom apartments it could buy in, say, a city like Mumbai.

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Image: China can become America's landlord.
Photographs: Reuters
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Here's what China can buy with $3 trn forex

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Three trillion dollars would buy about 88 per cent of 2011's global oil supply, says The Economist.

China can buy up all the oil, raise the prices and enjoy the profits.

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Image: China can pruchase nearly all of one year's supply of oil.
Photographs: Reuters
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Here's what China can buy with $3 trn forex

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It would take only $1.87 trillion (at 2009 prices) to buy all of the farmland (and farm buildings) in the United States.

If China acquires all the agriculture farms and farm buildings, it can easily control the world's food prices, as America is the biggest exporter of food products, according to The Economist.

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Image: China can acquire all the farmland and farm buildings in the US.
Photographs: Reuters
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Here's what China can buy with $3 trn forex

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China could theoretically buy America's entire Department of Defence, which has assets worth only $1.9 trillion, according to its 2010 balance sheet, says The Economist.

Most of this amount would actually be able to buy all the land, buildings and investments made by the US Department of Defence. The entire armament -- guns, tanks and other military apapratus -- is valued at $413.7 billion, says The Economist.

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Image: China can buy America's entire Department of Defence.
Photographs: Reuters
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Here's what China can buy with $3 trn forex

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The calculations might seem frivolous but they amply demonstrate the might of the Chinese nation.

With a fraction of that amount, China can buy all the top Indian companies. It can buy over more than 7,800 Airbus A380s, the largest passenger aircraft on earth.

That kind of money has the potential of taking care of almost all of India's infrastructural problems -- power, roads, rail and air connectivity, hospitals, and more...

So what else do you think could $3 trillion buy? Tell us.


Image: China faces great difficulty in diversifying its reserves.
Photographs: Reuters
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