An Unexpected Improvement…

The Wall Street Journal has just run an article about the latest data manipulation coming out of China. China is experiencing strong currency outflows. This is a combination of “hot money” from outside China, which came into the country to bet on an appreciating currency (the yuan) and is now retreating, and domestic money that is looking for a foreign home now that the Chinese bubble is appearing less and less sustainable.

 

china-foreign-exchange-reserves@2xChina’s foreign exchange reserves –  a reversal of fortunes – click to enlarge.

 

In a reversal of the process that I described here, this is causing China to spend huge amounts of its foreign exchange holdings to prop up the yuan.  This is the exact opposite of what China had been doing, which was to accumulate foreign exchange reserves as it depressed the yuan.  China is holding up the value of the yuan now because, although it ultimately wants to see the currency fall, it is worried that a sharp decrease will cause a self-fulfilling and destabilizing flight.

Investors have therefore been watching the monthly reports of China’s foreign exchange holdings with interest to gauge the amount of capital flight and the ability of the Chinese government to support the currency.  The numbers have not been comforting: foreign exchange holdings dropped from a peak of almost $4 trillion in March 2014 to $3.2 trillion in February 2016.

During most of 2015, the fall was running at about $80 to $100 billion per month, even though China was running a large balance of payments surplus, which would normally increase the amount of reserves.  Traders were beginning to speculate on how much longer China could continue to bleed.

And then it stopped: in February 2016, the monthly drop equaled $29 billion, down from $99 billion in January.  Investors breathed a sigh of relief.  It looked like the yuan wasn’t going to detonate, which was one of the possible “black swans” behind the fall in global markets at the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016.

 

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

But, of course, they lied.  Instead of buying the yuan in the “spot” markets, paying for the purchases with foreign exchange reserves in a way which is highly visible, the Chinese government has been using its lapdog banks to purchase the currency in the “forward” markets. These forward purchases hold up the current value of the yuan since the forward and spot markets are mathematically linked through interest rates.

The benefit for the Chinese is that forward purchases, which may not settle for months or even years, do not show up as an outflow of foreign exchange reserves for a long time.  This allows the Chinese government to pretend that the pressures on its currency are waning and that it is winning the battle against those nasty speculators.

 

Yuan, long termUSD-CNY, long term – click to enlarge.

 

Since, as I have noted before, the drawdown of foreign exchange reserves also tightens the domestic money supply, it also helps China to continue to run the very loose monetary policy that the government thinks is necessary to hold off recessionary pressures.

The WSJ article speculates that China may have $150 to $300 billion in currency forwards, most of which have been built up over the last few months.  The article also points out that the IMF, which has just promoted the yuan to the currency major leagues by including it in its Special Drawing Rights, is pressing China to disclose information on its forward positions.

The Chinese authorities promised to provide more information on its currency maneuvers when it joined the SDR in December of last year.  But apparently they have already forgotten. If it is true that China has rapidly built up this large forward position, it would mean that pressure on the yuan is continuing at a high level.  It would also mean that China is maintaining its world-leading position in falsifying economic statistics.

 

Charts by: TradingEconomics, BigCharts

 

Chart and image captions by PT

 

This article was originally posted at Economic Man.

 

Roger Barris is an American who has lived in Europe for over 20 years, now based in the UK. Although basically retired now, he previously had senior positions at Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch and his own firm, initially in structured finance and latterly in principal and fiduciary investing, focussing on real estate. He has a BA in Economics from Bowdoin College (summa cum laude) and an MBA in Finance from the University of Michigan (highest honors).

 

 
 

Emigrate While You Can... Learn More

 
 

 
 

Dear Readers!

It is that time of the year again – our semi-annual funding drive begins today. Give us a little hand in offsetting the costs of running this blog, as advertising revenue alone is insufficient. You can help us reach our modest funding goal by donating either via paypal or bitcoin. Those of you who have made a ton of money based on some of the things we have said in these pages (we actually made a few good calls lately!), please feel free to up your donations accordingly (we are sorry if you have followed one of our bad calls. This is of course your own fault). Other than that, we can only repeat that donations to this site are apt to secure many benefits. These range from sound sleep, to children including you in their songs, to the potential of obtaining privileges in the afterlife (the latter cannot be guaranteed, but it seems highly likely). As always, we are greatly honored by your readership and hope that our special mixture of entertainment and education is adding a little value to your life!

   

Bitcoin address: 1DRkVzUmkGaz9xAP81us86zzxh5VMEhNke

   
 

Your comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most read in the last 20 days:

  • factoryA Striking Chart
      The Economy and the Stock Market As long time readers know, we are always paying close attention to the manufacturing sector, which is far more important to the US economy than is generally believed. In terms of gross output it is the largest sector of the economy, and it should of course be obvious that saving, investment and production are the only ways to create wealth.   What's left of the Brooklyn Domino Sugar Refinery. Photo credit: Paul Raphaelson   Contrary...
  • trump-putin-1024Trump and Putin Narrowly Escape Assassination Attempt
      The Gloves are Coming Off First a little bit of recent history. Readers are probably aware that some questions about the occasionally malfunctioning Deep State android... no, wait, we'll start again. Questions have recently been raised about the health of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton by various “alt-right” tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorists, such as this one.   The monsters are normally hiding under Hillary's bed, but lately they have come out into the open...
  • historical-photos-pt9-pepsi-factory-baltimore-1956-aUS Economy - Curious Pattern in ISM Readings
      Head Fake Theory Confirmed? This is a brief update on our last overview of economic data. Although we briefly discussed employment as well, the overview was as usual mainly focused on manufacturing, which is the largest sector of the economy by gross output.   Pepsi factory in Baltimore, 1956 Photo via pinterest.com   Readers may recall that we have pointed out for some time that there was quite a large gap between the data reported in regional Fed manufacturing...
  • escobarA Convocation of Interventionists, Part 2
      Pleas for More Deficit Spending We continue with our Jackson Hole post mortem – including remarks that were made by economists and monetary bureaucrats shortly before and after the pow-wow and seem to be connected to the discussions there.   Assembled central planners (we're not sure if this picture was taken at the conference, but most of the people in it were there). Photo credit: Getty Images   We should preface the following with a Mises quote, as the...
  • swing-voterWhy the Fed Destroyed the Market Economy
      What Have You Done for Me Lately? Swing voters are a fickle bunch.  One election they vote Democrat.  The next they vote Republican. For they have no particular ideology or political philosophy to base their judgment upon.   The primacy of the wallet.   They don’t give a rip about questions of small government or big government.  Nor do they have any druthers about the welfare or warfare state. In effect, they really don’t care.  What’s important to the...
  • time-wastersHow is Real Wealth Created?
      An Abrupt Drop Let’s turn back to our regular beat: the U.S. economy and its capital markets. We’ve been warning that the Fed would never make any substantial increase to interest rates. Not willingly, at least.   Groping in the dark, Yellen-style   Each time Fed chief Janet Yellen opens her mouth, out comes a hint that more rate hikes might be coming. But each time, it turns out that the economy is not as robust as she had believed... and that a rate hike isn’t...
  • wallet-367975_960_720Janet Yellen’s Shame
      Playing Politics In honest capitalism, you do what you can to get other people to voluntarily give you money. This usually involves providing goods or services they think are worth the price. You may get a little wild and crazy from time to time, but you are always called to order by your customers.   In the market economy, consumers reign supreme. There is no such thing as a “lost” vote in the marketplace; every penny spent affects production. Mises noted: “Consumers...
  • warren-buffett-gold-coinGet Ready for a New Crisis – in Corporate Debt
      Imposter Dollar OUZILLY, France – We’re going back to basics here at the Diary. We’re getting everyone on the same page... learning together... connecting the dots... trying to figure out what is going on.   The new three dollar bill issued by the Apprehensive States of America.   We made a breakthrough when we identified the source of so many of today’s bizarre and grotesque trends. It’s the money – the new post-1971 dollar. This new dollar is green. You...
  • central bank HQs 2A Convocation of Interventionists – Part 1
      Modern Economics -  It's All About Central Planning We are hereby delivering a somewhat belated comment on the meeting of monetary central planners and their courtier economists at Jackson Hole. Luckily timing is not really an issue in this context.   Central bank headquarters: the Fed's Eccles building, the ECB's hideously expensive new tower in Frankfurt, and the BOJ's Tokyo HQ (judging from the people in the foreground, it may be a source of noxious fumes).   When...
  • silkroadHanjin Marooning in San Pedro Bay
      Global Trade Reversal Expansions and contractions in global trade have played out over long secular trends for thousands of years.  The Silk Road, for example, was established by the Han Dynasty of China in 130 BC, and allowed for continuous trade between East and West for nearly 1,600 years.  In addition to economic trade, the Silk Road was also a conduit for culture and knowledge among its network of civilizations.   A map of the main ancient Silk Road - click to...
  • 4-ip-and-non-def-capital-goods-ordersThe Economy, the Stock Market and the Fed
      John Hussman on Recent Developments We always look forward to John Hussman's weekly missive on the markets. Some people say that he is a “permabear”, but we don't think that is a fair characterization. He is rightly wary of the stock market's historically extremely high valuation and the loose monetary policy driving the surge in asset prices.   The S&P 500 Index and the NYSE advance-decline line. Most market internals weakened steadily until early February 2016, but...
  • SamuelsonJohn Maynard Keynes’ General Theory Eighty Years Later
      The “Scientific” Fig Leaf for Statism and Interventionism To the economic and political detriment of the Western world and those economies beyond which have adopted its precepts, 2016 marks the eightieth anniversary of the publication of one of, if not, the most influential economics books ever penned, John Maynard Keynes’ The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money.   The mere fact that the book is lauded by TIME magazine on the cover should give everyone...

Austrian Theory and Investment

Support Acting Man

Own physical gold and silver outside a bank

Archive

j9TJzzN

350x200

Realtime Charts

 

Gold in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Gold in EUR:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Silver in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Platinum in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

USD - Index:

[Most Recent USD from www.kitco.com]

 

THE GOLD CARTEL: Government Intervention on Gold, the Mega Bubble in Paper and What This Means for Your Future

 
Buy Silver Now!
 
Buy Gold Now!
 

Oilprice.com