It is now in the United States' interest - and it is also Geithner's intention - to keep the dollar strong to stop the US debt from ballooning further. The US financial crisis is now even more serious than the Thai crisis of 1997, but many are wondering why the US dollar is not crashing through the floor.
When Thailand faced its 1997 financial collapse, the baht crashed because investors took money out by selling the baht for the dollar. At one point the baht, which started at Bt25-Bt26 to the dollar before the devaluation, crashed to Bt56.
The dollar is not crashing because there has not been heavy dollar selling. Upon maturity, the US can still roll on currency contracts. Many big-time holders of US dollar reserves such as China and Japan are afraid that they will lose heavily if the dollar were to crash, so they have continued to buy up the US currency. On the other hand, they would also like to sell their manufactured goods at competitive rates.
China has lost hugely in its investments in US assets that have gone sour. It now has to keep its US$2 trillion reserve tight to its chest.
Other Asian countries have also been engaging in competitive devaluation in order to prop up their exports. When their economies were in trouble more than 10 years ago, they devalued their currencies to boost exports. Now that their economies are doing fine, they are again devaluing their currencies because they are afraid that they won't be able to sell their export goods.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the blame game has started. Chinese and Russian leaders Wen Jia-bao and Vladimir Putin hit out at US capitalist excesses for sparking the economic crisis.
Wen said the "blind pursuit of profit" had led to the worst recession since the Great Depression. He blamed the "inappropriate macro-economic policies of some economies" and "prolonged low savings and high consumption" in a barely veiled attack on the United States.
Putin said, "This pyramid of expectations would have collapsed sooner or later. In fact it is happening right before our eyes."
The US will have little reason for answering back because it is the major culprit of the global financial crisis this time. Decades of exuberance, excess and over-consumption fuelled the financial bubble. Public and private debt now accounts for more than 370 per cent of the gross domestic product.
Geithner's job has started and it will take years. The banks will need at least US$1.5 trillion (Bt52 trillion) for recapitalisation. Only the US Treasury has this money. If the Treasury's cash is to be injected into the banks, the US will be practically nationalising its banking sector.
The US walked away from manufacturing in favour of high finance. Its entire auto industry would have gone bankrupt had it not been for the federal bail-out. The US auto industry is also vulnerable to Japanese takeovers.
"The Americans were only good at finance and banking and consuming. They forgot how to produce. When the ships delivered the imported goods to US harbours, they returned empty because there was no US cargo for exports," a top commercial banker told me.
"Their lifestyle is spoiled. They work little and enjoy life too much. Now they have to learn to pick up the pieces and work harder."
The US model, as represented by the Washington consensus of free market, liberalisation and democracy, is no longer a shiny ideal.