Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The equilibrium real exchange rate of China: a productivity approach

Yan, Isabel K. and Kakkar, Vikas (2010): The equilibrium real exchange rate of China: a productivity approach. Forthcoming in: China and Asia in the Global Economy


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A large body of theoretical and empirical works asserts that exchange rates depend upon a country's productivity growth, and this effect is dubbed the Balassa-Samuelson effect. This paper examines the evidence for a Balassa-Samuelson based explanation for the real exchange rate movements of China vis-a-vis the U.S. dollar. Using disaggregated industry level data, we construct sectoral total factor productivities (TFPs) for the tradable and nontradable sectors from 1980-2003. Our main findings are: (a) the sectoral TFP differential is cointegrated with the relative price of nontradables with the unit cointegration vector; and (b) the real exchange rate is cointegrated with home and foreign sectoral TFP differentials. This productivity based real exchange rate model is then used to estimate the equilibrium exchange rates of the Renminbi (RMB). A comparison of the equilibrium exchange rate predicted by the productivity-based model and the actual rate indicates that the Renminbi is somewhat undervalued against the US dollar, though the undervaluation is not statistically significant. Our conclusions continue to hold even after we have controlled for the movements of net foreign assets.

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