May 4, 2012 · 10:13 pm
At the end of a fraught week for China-U.S. relations on the diplomatic front, state media aren’t letting the economic side of the relationship get away scot free. The People’s Daily says that the yuan is in equilibrium with the dollar, and may even be too high (here via Reuters). The article, from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the leading think tank, follows U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner saying during the strategic dialogue talks this week that the currency should move higher against the greenback to allow for more flexible policy. The yuan has risen by almost a third against the dollar since the peg between the two was broken in 2005.
This is not the first time that Beijing has put forward the proposition that the yuan is now at a reasonable exchange rate against the dollar. Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China, said as much earlier this week at a press conference during the talks, as did a Bank of China report in late March. None of that is likely to mollify American critics of China’s exchange-rate regime. Yet we are relieved, in one sense, to see the China-U.S. relationship returning to familiar ground.
February 5, 2011 · 1:46 pm
The U.S. Treasury has danced its way, as is its wont, around designating China as a currency manipulator. In its latest half-yearly report to the U.S. Congress, it says that China’s high inflation means that the yuan’s real (inflation-adjusted) exchange rate with the U.S. dollar has risen by an annualized 10% since Beijing started allowing its currency to rise again against the greenback last June. On a nominal basis the yuan rose 3.7% over that time.
Were the Treasury to declare that Beijing was manipulating its currency, it would trigger retaliatory actions by the Congress, where many believe that it does. That, though, would be a ramping up of Sino-American tensions that neither government would want to deal with, especially in the wake of President Hu Jintao’s state visit to Washington last month that put the relationship on a less overtly confrontational footing.
The Treasury did, however, repeat another of its favorite tunes, that the yuan remains “substantial undervalued” agains the dollar, and that more rapid progress is needed in its revaluation.
China’s real effective exchange rate has appreciated only modestly over the past decade. China’s large increases in productivity in export manufacturing, improvements in transportation and logistics, and China’s accession to the WTO all suggest that the [yuan] should have appreciated more significantly on a real effective basis over this period.
To seek to change that, the Treasury strikes a note of encouragement, rather than chiding:
It is in China’s interest to allow the nominal exchange rate to appreciate more rapidly, both against the dollar and against the currencies of its other major trading partners. If it does not, China will face the risk of more rapid inflation, excessively rapid expansion of domestic credit, and upward pressure on property and equity prices, all of which could threaten future economic growth. By trying to limit the pace of appreciation, China’s exchange rate policy is also working against its broad strategy to strengthen domestic demand. And China’s gradualist approach on the exchange rate also adds to the substantial pressure now being experienced by other emerging economies that run more flexible exchange rate systems and that have already seen substantial exchange rate appreciation.
Beijing’s policymakers know that that to be the case. They are just doing a slow foxtrot with the yuan for domestic social and political reasons, and won’t be rushed into picking up the tempo.
September 30, 2010 · 2:30 am
The U.S. House of Representatives has backed the high-profile trade sanctions legislation that targets countries that hold down the value of their currencies, as many American lawmakers accuse China of doing. The bill, which would require the U.S. Commerce Department to determine the extent to which a currency is undervalued, still has many hurdles to clear before it becomes law. It is likely to trip at the first of them, the U.S. Senate. Meanwhile, the People’s Bank of China said that it would take further action to increase the exchange rate flexibility of the yuan. Political posturing to counter political posturing.