People's Bank of China
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."
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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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.
China's holdings of long-term Treasuries fell by $21.2 billion in June to $839.7 billion, a U.S. government report showed recently. Total Chinese investment in U.S. debt declined 2.8% to $843.7 billion, the smallest in a year, following a 3.6% slide in May.
The shift comes as President Barack Obama increases U.S. debt to record levels, making it harder to finance sales to sustain the U.S. economic expansion.
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The remarks came during Wen's annual report to the National People's Congress in Beijing - which is the equivalent of the United States' State of the Union speech - and they highlight the central government's determination to promote responsible levels of growth.
The call for 8% annual economic growth is the same goal that has been maintained since 2005 - and one that was easily passed last year with the implementation of a sprawling $586 billion stimulus package.
The battle between China and Japan for the title of largest holder of this dubious asset is not very interesting. What's more interesting is the question of where China is instead opting to invest. After all, $34.2 billion is a fair chunk of change, and China's overall reserves are growing - not shrinking - and now total $2.4 trillion.
The People's Bank of China usually keeps its holdings a carefully guarded secret, much more so than for most central banks - our knowledge of its holdings of Treasuries comes from U.S. data, not from China. We do, however, have some evidence about the Chinese government's investment thinking, thanks to the holdings of China Investment Corp., the country's $200 billion sovereign wealth fund.
To discover the details of China’s global investments, please read on...
Overall credit growth in China will be capped at $1.1 trillion (7.5 trillion yuan) for 2010, Liu Mingkang, chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, told Bloomberg News in an interview in Hong Kong. Some banks were asked to limit credit because they failed to meet standards for capital reserves and other regulatory requirements, Liu said.
New loans in the first 10 days of this year were "relatively high," he told the Asian Financial Forum.
That may be understating the situation.