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ITF-220 - Prof.J.Frankell Example of China’s RMB, continued (2005-2014)

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Presentation on theme: "ITF-220 - Prof.J.Frankell Example of China’s RMB, continued (2005-2014)"— Presentation transcript:

1 ITF Prof.J.Frankell Example of China’s RMB, continued ( )

2 ITF220 - Professor J.Frankel China has mostly taken the BoP surplus as fx reserves. But it also allowed RMB appreciation ( & ).

3 ITF Prof.J.Frankell Appendix: Five reasons China warranted a more flexible exchange rate regime, in its own interest Overheating of economy in & : => real appreciation. Excessive reserves ($3.7 trillion as of 2014 ) – Harder to sterilize the inflow over time. Attaining internal and external balance. – To attain both, need 2 policy instruments. – In a large country like China, the expenditure-switching policy should be the exchange rate. – Along with expenditure-increasing policies (2009). Avoiding crash: – Experience suggests it is better to exit from a peg in good times, when the BoP is strong, than to wait until the currency is under attack. RMB undervalued, judged by Balassa-Samuelson relationship.

4 ITF Prof.J.Frankell Longer-run perspective: Balassa-Samuelson relationship Prices of goods & services in China are low – not just low judged by Absolute PPP (.23 relative to the US), – but also low by standards of Balassa-Samuelson relationship estimated across countries ( which predicts.36 ). The RMB is undervaluedin this specific sense. – 2000 estimate was 35% before 2007 statistical revisions by IPC project. – Now undervaluation estimate more like 15%.

5 ITF Prof.J.Frankell Estimation of B-S relationship for 2000 For every 1% increase in real income/capita (relative to US), prices increase.4% (relative). China’s estimated residual is.15 – Using revised ICP stats. – Subramanian (2008). Frankel (2006) 118 countries, PWT

6 Real appreciation The RMB’s real appreciation against the $ from 2009 to 2012 amounted to 12%, reducing the degree of undervaluation by roughly half, depending on whether one measures it against the $ or against all currencies. More is expected, as China’s relative wages continue to rise. In any case, China’s real exchange rate is already closer to this measure of equilibrium than are most countries’ exchange rates (Cheung, Chinn & Fuji, 2010).

7 China Adjusts, Various measures suggest that China has achieved a major share of the needed trade adjustment since 2009: Its trade surplus peaked at $300 billion in 2008, and declined thereafter. Substantial real appreciation of the RMB has brought it closer to equilibrium. – Some nominal appreciation + – Some price inflation and, especially, wage increases.

8 Adjustment of relative prices The famous “China price”: – Ever since China rejoined the world economy 3 decades ago, its trading partners have been snapping up exports of manufacturing goods, – because low Chinese wages made them super-competitive on world markets. But in recent years, relative prices have adjusted – following the laws of market economics.

9 Adjustment of relative prices, continued The change in relative prices is reflected as real exchange rate appreciation. – This comprises, in part, nominal appreciation – and, in part, Chinese inflation. – Government officials would have been better advised to let more of the real appreciation take the form of nominal appreciation ($ per RMB). – But since they didn’t, it showed up as inflation instead. – See charts below: appreciation, against the $ and other currencies.

10 Appreciation versus the US $, The RMB rose against the $ during , but temporarily returned to peg in mid-2008.

11 Appreciation vs. index of currencies,

12 China’s trade balance The surplus peaked in 2007, and then fell. Source: Reserve Bank of Australia (June 2013)Reserve Bank of Australia China runs a deficit in primary products, offset by a surplus in manufactures.

13 13 China’s trade balance The bilateral surplus with the United States is as big as ever – which has no economic importance, but is politically sensitive.

14 The natural adjustment process was delayed. 1 st, because the authorities intervened to keep the exchange virtually fixed against the dollar, in the years and nd, workers in China’s increasingly productive coastal factories were not paid their full value. – The economy has not completed its transition from Mao to market, after all. As a result of these two delaying mechanisms, Chinese continued to undersell the world.

15 But then two things happened. 1 st, the yuan was finally allowed to appreciate against the $ during & , by 25% cumulatively =17% + 8%. Though less against other currencies. 2 nd, labor shortages began to appear => China’s workers at last won rapid wage hikes. – Major cities raised their minimum wages sharply over each of the last 3 years: 22% on average in 2010 & 2011; Meanwhile another cost of business, land prices, have risen even more rapidly.

16 Chinese wages have been rising 16 Source: “China’s wage inflation,” Aug. 28, 2013China’s wage inflation

17 Real appreciation The RMB’s real appreciation against the $ from 2009 to 2012 amounted to 12%, reducing the degree of undervaluation by roughly half, depending on whether one measures it against the $ or against all currencies. More is expected, as China’s relative wages continue to rise. In any case, China’s real exchange rate is already closer to this measure of equilibrium than are most countries’ exchange rates (Cheung, Chinn & Fuji, 2010).

18 5 types of adjustment are gradually taking place in response to the new high level of costs in the factories of China’s coastal provinces: 1 st, some manufacturing is migrating inland, – where wages & land prices are still relatively low. 2 nd, export operations are shifting to Vietnam or Bangla Desh – where wages are lower still. 3 rd, Chinese companies are beginning to automate, – substituting capital for labor. 4 th, they are moving into more sophisticated products, – following the path blazed earlier by Japan, Korea, & other Asian tigers in the “flying geese” formation. 5 th, multinational companies that had in the past moved some stages of their production process to China, out of the US or out of other high-wage countries, are now moving back.

19 All five of these ways of reallocating resources represent the economic process operating as it should. None of this comes as news to most observers of China.

20 Many Western politicians are unable to let go of the syllogism that seemed so unassailable just a decade ago: – (1) The Chinese have joined the world economy; – (2) their wages are $0.50 an hour; – (3) there are a billion of them, and so – (4) their exports will rise without limit: “Chinese wages will never be bid up in line with the usual textbook laws of economics because the supply labor is infinitely elastic.” But it turns out that the laws of economics do eventually apply after all -- even in China.

21 Expansion of the services sector. This 6th dimension of adjustment still lags behind, despite the consensus in favor of it. China has had great success in manufacturing – especially via exports. Now it needs to help the other side of the economy catch up: services, via domestic demand – Retail, education, environmental quality, – health care, pensions, social safety net. Some of this could be done via government spending – especially with the economy in slowdown in 2014, – as China did in 2009; but that was mostly heavy investment.


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