Munich Personal RePEc Archive

China currency dispute: is a rise in the yuan inevitable, necessary or desirable?

Tatom, John (2007): China currency dispute: is a rise in the yuan inevitable, necessary or desirable?

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Abstract

China-bashing has become a popular media and political sport. This is largely due to the U.S. trade imbalance and the belief, by some, that China is responsible for it because it manipulates its currency to hold down the dollar prices of its goods, unfairly creating a trade advantage that has contributed to the loss of U.S. businesses and jobs. This paper reviews the problem of the large trade imbalance that the United States has with China and its relationship to Chinese exchange rate policy. It examines the link between a Chinese renminbi appreciation and the trade balance and also whether a generalized dollar decline could solve the global or Chinese U.S. trade imbalance. The consensus view explained here is that a renminbi appreciation is not likely to fix either the trade imbalance with China or overall. Though these perceived benefits of a managed float are small or non-existent, perhaps they should be pursued anyway because of small costs or even benefits for China. Section IV looks at the costs of a managed float in terms of the benefits of the earlier peg. Opponents of a fixed dollar/yuan exchange rate ignore the costs of a managed float for China, especially with limits on currency convertibility. These costs are outlined here in order to provide an economic basis for the earlier fixed rate and China’s reluctance to appreciate. Finally it is suggested that the necessary convertibility on capital account, toward which China is moving, could easily result in yuan depreciation under a floating rate regime. This is hardly the end that China critics have in mind and it is not one that would improve U.S. or other trade imbalances with China.

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