Monday, November 11, 2013

China is doing is right with managing its exchange rate

China has been heavily criticized by western politicians and policy-makers for its exchange rate policy that favors its export industry. Some have tried to explain to Chinese authorities that it is not in their best interest to follow a quasi-fixed exchange rate with the US dollar. Indeed, we know from past experience that fixed-exchange rates can be very expensive to maintain, especially in the context of large external imbalances. But is China different? After all, it financial development is
clearly less advanced than Western economies, and the Chinese economy is growing much faster.

Philippe Bacchetta, Kenza Benhima and Yannick Kalantzis look at the optimal exchange-rate policy of a growing economy where domestic households do not have access to international markets, that is, China. They find that the optimal path for the exchange rate is first a real depreciation during a growth spurt, and then a real appreciation in the long-run. This is pretty much what China has been applying. In other words, China did everything right given its situation, and this is because the growth spurt generates a glut of savings that have nowhere to go. The real depreciation allows to take care of this current account imbalance having the central bank serve as intermediary and converting foreign assets to domestic ones for the desperate households. In some sense, we could even argue that the Bank of China has not done enough of that given the real estate bubble, which is also a consequence of this savings glut.

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