China and currency manipulation

SINCE his election as president, Donald Trump has not softened his criticism of China over its alleged meddling to control the value of its currency, the yuan. On the contrary, he has called China “the grand champion” of currency manipulators. The kindest interpretation of this is that Mr Trump is out of date, as his own government could tell him.

America’s Treasury makes a six-monthly assessment of the foreign-exchange policies of its big trading partners. The criteria it uses to identify currency manipulators are regarded by many economists as inadequate. They do not include, for example, the domestic purchasing power of a currency. Nevertheless, even by those flawed criteria, China is far from the champion. Indeed it seems to have quit the tournament altogether.

The Treasury uses three measures: whether the country runs a sizeable surplus in trade with America; whether its current-account surplus exceeds 3% of GDP; and whether it spends more than 2% a year to buy foreign assets to suppress the value of its currency. Over the past year, no country has checked all three boxes. China, in the latest report, only met…Continue reading

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