Summers can’t get Chinese to budge on currency . . . at least not in public

Chief of the National Economic Council Larry Summers listens in as U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to the media after meeting with Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on June 29, 2010.  UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg Photo via Newscom

The United States is losing patience with China as the Chinese move slowly on their currency policy. Many in the US believe correctly that the Chinese are propping up their exports, and hurting US imports, by undervaluing their currency. Larry Summers visited China but no progress has been made . . . at least in public statements.

China rejected pressure over currency Tuesday amid a visit by two high-level U.S. envoys, saying Beijing will set the pace of exchange rate reforms.

Currency has re-emerged as an irritant in U.S.-Chinese relations as American leaders face pressure to create jobs ahead of November elections. Lawmakers who want possible trade sanctions on China set aside complaints as the two governments worked together to end the global crisis but are renewing their demands.

“Exchange rate reform can’t be pressed ahead under external pressure,” said Jiang Yu, a foreign ministry spokesman.

The Chinese don’t want to ;look like they are bowing to pressure, so we all need to go through this diplomatic song and dance. Eventually, a change has to be made.

China will let its currency slowly appreciate

After months of subtle pressure from the United States and other nations, China has signaled a willingness to adjust its currency policies.

China’s central bank announced on Saturday evening that it would allow greater flexibility in the value of the country’s currency, in the clearest sign yet that China will allow the renminbi to appreciate gradually against the dollar.

The People’s Bank of China said that the Chinese economy was strengthening after the global financial crisis and that it was “desirable to proceed further with reform” of the currency, known as the renminbi or yuan. The announcement comes a week before world leaders gather in Canada for the Group of 20 and Group of 8 summit meetings. A growing number of countries have been calling for China to let the renminbi appreciate, including not just the United States and European nations, but India, Brazil and Singapore in recent weeks.

This is big news. For years China has kept its currency artificially low vs the dollar. Now we might see an adjustment that let’s the market have more of an impact on the value of the currency, which can help with the China/US trade deficit.

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