“The Exchange Rate System Reform in China: US Pressure, Implicit Gradual Appreciation and Explicit Exchange Rate Bands” by Dr. Paul Sau Leung Yip
Sau Leung Yip
Nanyang Technological University
This paper provides a review and empirical investigation of the exchange rate system reform in China over the period between July 2005 and January 2017. We describe the People’s Bank of China’s (PBoC’s) initial achievements and subsequent mistakes in the reform. We note that the central bank’s initial honoring of its implicit indication of gradual appreciation played a significant role in its success in the reform initially. However, because of the US pressure for faster renminbi (RMB) appreciation, the PBoC’s subsequent violation of the implicit indication of gradual appreciation triggered substantial speculative inflows and hence excessive RMB appreciation and volatility between March 2006 and July 2008. We find that during the first ten years of the reform, the PBoC was actually monitoring the RMB-USD exchange rate instead of the nominal effective exchange rate (NEER). This policy failure was one of the reasons for the substantial drop in China’s foreign reserves amid the strengthening of the USD between 2014 and early 2017. The PBoC’s mini devaluation on 11 August 2015 was another mistake that had thereafter triggered sharp depreciation and high volatility of the RMB. On the other hand, the several incidences of widening of the RMB-USD exchange rate band over the sampling period was found to have only relatively mild effect on the volatility of the RMB.