The Chinese central bank has to circumvent offshore imports-driven inflation due to Renminbi currency misalignment.

Amy Hamilton

2019-07-07 18:36:00 Sun ET

The Chinese central bank has to circumvent offshore imports-driven inflation due to Renminbi currency misalignment. Even though China keeps substantial foreign reserves in U.S. government bonds, traders may still speculate whether the People Bank of China (PBOC) can fix the Dollar-Renminbi exchange rate below 7.0x. This current exchange rate has substantially declined about 9.3% since April 2018 and now hovers in the stable range of 6.89x-6.92x. PBOC Governor Yi Gang indicates that there is no asymmetric red line for the Sino-American exchange rate. However, Chinese economic policymakers may be hesitant to let their currency depreciate past RMB$7-to-USD$1.

Any expectations of short-term currency misalignment can spur capital flight out of the Chinese economy. Chinese public corporations that list abroad have to make cash dividend payments in June each year; so foreign exchange order flows reveal substantive short-term pressure for these Chinese public firms to sell the offshore Renminbi. As China achieves a near-zero current account surplus in mid-2019, the Renminbi faces downward pressure. Renminbi depreciation has long been a major source of tremendous competitive advantage for China. It is important for the Sino-U.S. trade negotiations to level the playing field with respect to potential Renminbi currency misalignment.

 


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