China to Float Yuan More Freely – Roubini Predicts: Yuan Appreciation Against Dollar Unlikely – I Say: Yuan Has Already Begun Depreciating

posted by Nima

June 19, 2010 · Posted in Monetary Economics 

Reuters writes China forex move could thwart U.S. hopes – Roubini:

China’s decision to move away from its currency peg might mean the yuan weakens against the dollar instead of strengthens as Washington wants, Nouriel Roubini, one of Wall Street’s most closely followed economists, said on Saturday.

China said on Saturday it would gradually make the yuan more flexible after pegging it to the dollar for nearly two years, a move that the U.S. government and others around the world have long been calling for.

“This is the first significant signal in years of a change in Chinese currency policy,” Roubini, best known for having predicted the U.S. housing meltdown, told Reuters.

But it remains to be seen how China would put the new system into practice including the composition of a basket of currencies that Beijing will use as a reference point for the yuan — also known as the renminbi — and the base date for that basket, he said in an e-mail.

“Since they have not changed the previous range for the band — plus or minus 0.5 percent — most likely on Monday China will allow the renminbi vs U.S. dollar to move,” said Roubini.

The yuan has risen sharply in recent months against the euro, which sank over Europe’s debt problems, so a stronger yuan could not be taken for granted, he said.

If the euro were to continue to depreciate, “the renminbi would have to be allowed to depreciate relative to the dollar, a paradoxical outcome,” Roubini said.

His comments echoed those of an adviser to China’s central bank on Saturday.

Li Daokui, an academic adviser to the monetary policy committee of the People’s Bank of China, told Reuters in Beijing that the yuan could depreciate against the dollar if the euro falls sharply against the U.S. currency.

Roubini, like other analysts, said a major strengthening of the yuan looked unlikely.

“Even if the Chinese were to allow a gradual renminbi appreciation relative to the U.S. dollar, the size of such appreciation would be modest over the next year, not more than 3 or 4 percent as the trade surplus has shrunk, growth is likely to slow down on China and labor/employment unrest remains of concern to the Chinese.”

For more on this see my own predictions on this particular matter.

July 2009 – China Pegging Yuan to Dollar Again?

The stabilization of the Dollar against the Yuan has almost coincided the reversal of the Dollar’s fall against other major currencies. It thus appears as if, since mid 2008, the Yuan/Dollar peg has been reinstated and continues to be in place as these lines are written. What is also noteworthy is that the US current account deficit has been declining sharply since then.

A first look at the above chart leads one to believe that Chinese and US authorities aimed at putting an end to the fall of the Dollar, and thus intervened accordingly. However, another possibility which I would like to propose is that the Dollar had fundamentally and truly begun to stabilize at the level of RMB 6.83 at that point and was actually in for a major revaluation upwards. Thus the current intervention by Chinese authorities could actually be aiming at a stabilization of its own currency at a higher level than the market would mandate.

Some points fundamentally support the thesis that the dollar should gain in value against the major currencies:

- Global deleveraging is driving investors from other currencies back to the Dollar
- Deflation hitting the US first, and other countries only later
- Imports into the US are falling rapidly
- Significant domestic spending sprees by the Chinese government

All this may indicate that if the Chinese government were to let the Yuan float freely at some point, it may actually drop significantly against the US Dollar. Such an event could possibly be the ignition for a significant Dollar rally in the years to come.

The Reuters article is also in line with something I pointed out recently:

An interesting side effect of the Dollar rally is what’s happening to Chinese exports. Since its currency is pegged to the US Dollar, the Yuan is strengthening against the Euro which is hurting the powerful Chinese export lobbyists.

Bottom line: The supposed Yuan devaluation everyone seems to be expecting, were the Yuan to be freely floated, is simply not gonna happen!

Luckily, such predictions are testable. Let’s see how we are doing so far. Let’s observe the direction the Dollar has begun to take against the Yuan:

dollar-yuan-06-2010

Let’s see if the trend holds up …

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