There are growing signs that something is brewing in relation to China’s foreign exchange rate regime.
When Hong Kong traders returned from the Easter break, many were surprised to be told by their mainland colleagues about growing market speculation that Beijing might be planning a one-off deal to lift the value of the yuan — some say by as much as 10 percent.
Others are more cautious. They say a one-off revaluation sounds unlikely although Beijing may relax foreign exchange controls by setting new “game rules” around the upcoming Labour Day holiday in the first week of May. The Financial Times yesterday ran a nice scoop about sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp being set to win new funds, likely $100-200 billion, as Beijing seeks to diversify its massive foreign exchange reserves, now exceeding $3 trillion.
I support the idea of further empowering CIC. If Beijing wants to reduce its exposure to U.S. debt, expanding direct investment worldwide is a very workable solution. Will Beijing make a formal statement on its ambition to boost CIC’s shopping power abroad during the Labour Day holiday?
Don’t forget we will soon have one of the most important U.S.-China summits with the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) meeting in Washington on May 9-10. Of course, the yuan exchange rate will naturally be a focus of the dialogue. If CIC invests more in the United States, that may help the U.S. add more jobs. But then you may naturally think of another question — will the U.S. be happy to take so much money from China yet restrict its investment to some “boring” sectors?