the visible hand

it is the theory which decides what can be observed – einstein

China: stealth support for dollar

Posted by ecoshift on August 26, 2008

Beijing swells dollar reserves through stealth – Telegraph
Rule changes for commercial banks are acting as cover for exchange rate intervention, writes Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

China has resorted to stealth intervention in the currency markets to amass US dollars, using indirect means to hold down the yuan and ease the pain for its struggling exporters as the global slowdown engulfs the economy.

A study by HSBC’s currency team in Asia has concluded that China’s central bank is in effect forcing commercial banks to build up large dollar reserves, using them as arms-length proxies in a renewed campaign of exchange rate intervention.

Beijing has raised the reserve requirement for banks five times since March, quickening the pace with two half-point rises in late June.

This is having major spill-over effects into the currency markets because banks in China have been required over the last year to hold extra reserves in dollars rather than yuan. The latest moves have lifted the mandatory deposit from 15pc to 17.5pc of total lending since March.

“China has used the pretext of reserve requirement hikes to help slow yuan appreciation. We estimate that the PBOC [central bank] intervened by about $49.6bn in June,” said Daniel Hui, the bank’s Asia strategist.

Beijing has also slashed the amount of foreign debt banks operating in China can hold. The effect is to oblige the banks to become net buyers of dollars, halting the flow of foreign “hot money”.

Given the sheer scale of China’s foreign reserves – now $1,800bn (£970bn) – any shift in its exchange policy now ripples around the globe. The covert buying may help to explain at least part of the explosive dollar rebound over recent weeks.”

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