James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
China’s Christmas day interest rate hike may prove to be bad for global growth but good, at least for a time, for risky assets.
From that perspective, the Chinese policy change could end up being a much-needed helping hand to Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke, who has engineered a policy partly aimed to boost economic growth through the false miracle of asset price inflation.
The Chinese rate hike, taking the benchmark interest rate up by a quarter of a percentage point, signals an increased willingness by Chinese authorities to do what they must to dampen the party domestically. The move increased the one-year lending rate to 5.81 percent and one-year deposit rate to 2.75 percent.
It is aimed at cooling inflation, which is running at 5.1 percent annually on the consumer level, not to mention making itself felt through a booming property market and gold-rush-like appreciation in things like herbal remedies and rare delicacies.
Of course, higher interest rates, while they may cool speculation domestically, will only make China more attractive to international capital, which is already slavering at the prospect of an eventual appreciation of the yuan.