Forex Blog: Currency Trading News & Analysis.

September 14th 2006

Commentary: RMB’s appreciation is tied to inflation

A couple weeks ago, I posted on this very subject- that the value of the Chinese Yuan is largely tied to inflation and interest rate differentials. With this week’s commentary piece, I wish to further expound upon this theory, because it appears to really carry weight. Most traders who have an opinion on the Chinese Yuan base their forecasts for the Yuan’s appreciation on political developments: how much diplomatic pressure the world will apply to China and how much China will capitulate on this most delicate of economic issues. A Stanford economist, however, has demonstrated that political guesswork might not be necessary, by connecting the Yuan’s appreciation to several important economic indicators.

Let me explain. There are two closely related theories in classical economics which attempt to account for changes in the relative value of currencies: interest-rate parity and purchasing power parity. The theories hold that the relative value of a nation’s currency should move inversely with price levels and interest rates, respectively. The reasoning is straightforward enough: the return on risk-free investments denominated in two different currencies should be equal in order for the markets to clear. However, as in many areas of economics, the gap between theory and reality in currency markets is significant, for high interest rates often attract risk-averse foreign investors instead of repelling them, which ultimately leads to the currency increasing in value.

In contrast, the Stanford economist seems to have established that the laws of parity seem to be holding in the case of the Chinese Yuan. It turns out the China-US inflation and interest rate differentials have almost perfectly mirrored the movement of the Yuan in the past year. As growth in the US began to drive inflation, the Fed raised interest rates to the extent that they currently exceed Chinese rates by over 3.5%- the precise amount by which the Chinese Yuan has appreciated against the USD this year! This phenomenon indicates that the Central Bank has allowed the Yuan to appreciate only so much as to offset the value by which the USD has been eroded by inflation. Coincidence? Probably Not. In short, we should expect the Yuan to appreciate only by the amount that American price and interest rate levels exceed those of China.

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Posted by Adam Kritzer | in Chinese Yuan (RMB), Commentary | No Comments »

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