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China

Currency War: China Stands Firm on Yuan as Global Criticism Escalates

Germany and Japan are joining the U.S. in pressuring Beijing to let the yuan appreciate to prevent an international currency war from spiraling out of control. Still, China remains firm that a gradual rate change is all it will allow.

German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle warned yesterday (Wednesday) that a trade war could erupt if China didn't float its currency for a more fair value. As the China-U.S. currency tensions have heated up, other countries are saying China's unfair trade advantage is threatening export-driven recoveries around the globe.

"We have to take care that the currency war doesn't become a trade war," Bruederle told German business paper Handelsblatt. "China bears a lot of responsibility for ensuring that it doesn't come to an escalation."

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CNOOC Creates Biggest China-U.S. Oil Deal For Stake in Shale Gas Industry

China's state-owned energy company China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) (NYSE ADR: CEO) late Sunday announced it would invest $2.16 billion in U.S.-based Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE:CHK) to increase China's stake in unconventional gas resources like shale gas. It is the largest ever China-U.S. oil and gas deal.

CNOOC initially will pay $1.08 billion for a 33% stake in Chesapeake's Eagle Ford shale acreage in Southern Texas. China's third-largest oil company will invest an additional $1.08 billion by paying 75% of Chesapeake's drilling and completion costs in coming years, allowing Chesapeake to tap hard-to-extract shale gas deposits and boosting its weak balance sheet.

The deal highlights China's need to develop its shale-gas extraction techniques. The country has 26 trillion cubic meters of shale gas reserves that are largely unexplored due to a lack of drilling ability – and Chesapeake is a pioneer in the shale gas industry.

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You Heard it Here First: China's Plan to Dethrone the Dollar Continues to Unfold

The U.S. dollar is on the way out as the world's top reserve currency. And as Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald predicted more than a year and a half ago, the yuan could be set to replace it.

The greenback has served as the world's benchmark reserve currency since the mid-20th century, but soaring deficits and the U.S. Federal Reserve's loose monetary policy have drained the dollar's value. Meanwhile, emerging markets – many of which are vibrant manufacturing hubs, net creditors, and have rich caches of commodities – are more fiscally sound than the United States, which has a $1.3 trillion budget deficit.

"If you look at the fundamentals of a lot of these emerging markets, they are considerably better than developed markets," Kenneth Akintewe, a Singapore-based investment manager at Aberdeen Asset Management PLC told Bloomberg in an Oct. 11 interview. "Who wants to be holding U.S. dollars at this stage?"

China, which leads the world with more than $2 trillion in currency reserves held mostly in U.S. Treasuries, is chief among the countries seeking respite from the dollar's decline. Beijing has long bemoaned the depreciation of the dollar, stating outright that it should be replaced as the world's main reserve currency.

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Controversial House China Tariff Bill Will Take America Down the Wrong Road

The U.S. House of Representatives this week overwhelmingly passed a bill that would enable the Obama administration to impose punitive tariffs on almost all Chinese imports into the United States – a controversial move that's intended to punish China for refusing to revalue its currency.

The House China tariff bill faces opposition in the Senate and from the Obama administration and isn't expected to become law. Let's hope that reluctance continues to hold: This bill is little more than a political con job and is quite possibly the stupidest thing that Washington could do right now.

Not only will this touch off a war the United States literally cannot afford to fight, but it's going to hamstring millions of already cash tight Americans by raising the cost of living dramatically while further eviscerating our already fragile gross domestic product (GDP).

Let me show you why…

To understand the hidden costs of the China tariff bill, please read on...

Japanese Economy Threatened by China Rare Earth Metals Ban

Japanese authorities last Friday released from detention the captain of a Chinese fishing boat that was found in disputed waters. However, China continues to withhold exports of rare earth metals to its island neighbor.

Rare earth metals are crucial to Japan's high-tech industry, and the ban on shipments from China, which has been in place since Tuesday of last week, could cripple the country's economy.

There are 15 different types of rare earth metals, which are used in high-tech devices like computer display screens, smart bombs, and hybrid-car batteries. However, the metals are scattered across the globe and very difficult to extract. They are in increasingly short supply as world demand surges, with industry officials predicting a global shortfall of 30,000 to 50,000 metric tons by 2012.

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U.S.-China Tension Evident in Futile House Currency Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives today (Wednesday) will vote on legislation that would let the U.S. government take punitive actions against countries that undervalue their currencies.

The bill isn't likely to have any tangible impact on U.S. policy, but it's yet another manifestation of the growing friction between the world's two greatest economic powers.

The Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act (HR 2378) is the apparent result of increasingly harsh rhetoric towards China's currency policy, which U.S. lawmakers say keeps the yuan undervalued. It is a relatively toothless measure that will likely have no effect on U.S. policy, but instead serve as a rallying cry for Congressional lawmakers looking to win votes ahead of November's midterm elections, and perhaps, U.S. officials heading to a Group of 20 (G20) summit the very same month.

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China Steps Up Effort to Derail BHP Bid for Potash

China is attempting to derail BHP Billiton Ltd's (NYSE ADR: BHP) bid for Potash Corp. (NYSE ADR: POT), as Beijing frets over the long-term supply of resources, according to a report yesterday (Wednesday) by the Financial Times.

Fearing that it could have a negative impact on Chinese imports, the state-run Sinochem Group has hired Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE: DB) and Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) to help disrupt BHP's bid for the fertilizer company, people familiar the matter told the FT. A Chinese bank, thought to be Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, was also part of the team.

Citigroup, which acts as joint corporate broker to BHP along with Bank of America Corp.'s (NYSE: BAC) Merrill Lynch unit, has asked to be relieved of its role in BHP's bid in order to advise Sinochem on a potential counter-bid.

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What's In a Name: Can the U.S. Afford to Call China a Currency Manipulator?

It seems like every six months the debate over China's currency, the yuan, reaches a fevered pitch: The Washington bureaucrats threaten to label China a "currency manipulator" and Beijing threatens to dump its U.S. debt holdings.

Then, with the imminent approach of a major inflection point – be it a key international summit or major financial report – both sides grudgingly agree that a modest appreciation of the yuan would be mutually beneficial.

However, things could be slightly different this time around. China has routinely ducked calls to revalue its currency, and in doing so greatly agitated the West.

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China Trade Surplus Reignites Tensions Over the Yuan

China in August posted its third straight trade surplus of more than $20 billion, putting friction with the United States over the nation's currency back in the spotlight.

Exports rose 34.4% in August and imports climbed a greater-than-expected 35.2%, leaving the country with a $20.03 billion surplus, a customs bureau report showed Friday.

But a sustained trade gap with the United States could embolden American lawmakers who are pushing to penalize China for what they consider unfair trade practices.

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China Ousts U.S. as Most Attractive Market for Renewable Energy Investing

China for the first time has overtaken the United States as the most attractive country for renewable energy investment, according to a quarterly index ranking released yesterday (Wednesday) by accounting firm Ernst & Young.

As the world's biggest energy consumer, China set a goal to generate 15% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 – up from 9% in 2008 – and has been encouraging investment in its clean energy companies to make its target.

"China has all the benefits of capital, government will, and it's a massive market," Ben Warren, Ernst & Young's environment and energy infrastructure leader, told Bloomberg. "We would expect to see China retaining a dominant position."

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