Despite the Yuan’s value recently plummeting to an eight-year low, the Chinese economy has been rather stable in the second half of 2016, manufacturing PMI held above 50 (above 50 signals expansion); exports reached $196.8 Bln in November(from $176.2 Bln in January); and in industrial production growth averaged 6.14% Year over Year.
Together, these changes all represent a strong indicator of growth - and of bounce-back - and all thanks to the Yuan. Or more accurately, to the Yuan meltdown. Even as the Chinese Yuan shed more than 7.1% this year, it allowed China’s exports to rebound and stabilize industrial and manufacturing production. But all that stability comes at a stiff price, down the line.
While a weaker Yuan helps exporting sectors, it causes problems in China’s domestic economy. In it, an exceptionally weak currency has the same impact as monetary easing, creating an inverse relationship where, when the Yuan’s value is eroded, China’s housing bubble swells.
Chinese policymakers are in the midst of a very delicate maneuver. With a hyped housing market and an unloved stock market, China’s policymakers want the “hot money” from real estate investment to be funneled away from housing and into the stock market. The problem? It won’t be easy and may require sacrificing economic growth, just at the point when growth has begun to stabilize.
The Bubble Returns
For some time now, Beijing has been well aware of the bubbly housing market. In fact, China has experienced two housing slumps in past decade, back in 2011-2012 and in 2014-2015, in both cases, the slump was largely due to the government’s efforts to curb prices in the preceding years. Those efforts were primarily through the implementation of new housing regulations and by clamping down on shadow lending. More importantly, the Chinese government put to good use its main monetary tool, the Yuan. By allowing the Yuan to strengthen, credit became more expensive and, as a result, the hype ended. But the price tag was dear because tightening efforts also resulted in a sharp slowdown in the Chinese economy and a meltdown in the Chinese stock market.
In 2015, the crisis was so severe, in fact, that Chinese policymakers had no choice but to drastically reverse policy by cutting lending rates, intervening in the stock market and, yes, as you might have surmised, devaluing the Yuan. But ironically, just when the easing measures have started to make a real impact, the housing market has once again become overheated and has turned bubbly. Continue reading "Will China Drop The Ball?"→
A little more than a week ago, China released its data for second quarter GDP growth alongside other important data sets that, entwined, give us a glimpse into the health of the world’s second largest economy and a framework for FX strategy in the Asian space.
China’s second quarter GDP growth hit 6.7% for the second quarter year-on-year, the same growth rate as the first quarter and moderately higher than the 6.6% called for in Reuters’ consensus poll. The major contributor to GDP growth was consumption, a rather positive sign that consumers are becoming a more prominent engine in the Chinese economy. This was further enforced when China’s retail sales posted growth of 10.6% in June compared to 10.0% in May.
But on the flip side, there were some negative signs as well, and plenty of them. GDP growth was, indeed, driven by consumption but the growth in the services sector, or the tertiary industry as it is referred to, was 7.6% Year on Year. That is simply not enough to accommodate China’s weakness in manufacturing and not exactly in line with China’s growth plans. Continue reading "China Recap: The Good And The Bad"→
The year 2015, no doubt, has been a year to remember. Markets saw the first Fed rate hike in years which pushed the Dollar ever higher. In the Eurozone, the ECB's QE pushed the Euro to lows it hasn't seen in years. And in China, the Yuan, too, is being pushed to record lows as China's economy gets squeezed.
Now, with 2016 practically knocking at the door, the question is will 2016 be the year of a turnaround? Or will the themes of 2015 continue to dominate? Here are some major areas to focus on which can help us figure it all out. Continue reading "Will 2016 Bring A Turnaround In FX?"→
Last Monday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) endorsed the inclusion of the yuan in the fund's Special Drawing Rights (SDR) basket effective on Oct. 1, 2016. The Chinese currency has now joined the elite global currency club and will be the fifth member alongside the US dollar, the euro, the sterling and the Japanese yen.
Beijing has long hoped that the renminbi (another name for Chinese currency) would enter the privileged short list of world currencies, and it finally succeeded last week. But, first and foremost they are celebrating a political victory.
Some experts doubted that the yuan could be judged as "freely usable," which is the main criteria for inclusion to the SDR, but the reality proves that the stronger one is right despite such obvious contradictions as tight currency control and shares sale ban. Continue reading ""Enter The Dragon" Starring … Gold"→