With the US decision to impose added tariffs on more than $300 billion of China trade, and the US Treasury declaring China a “currency manipulator”, global financial markets have reacted with sharp selling. The question is whether this is the beginning of a genuine currency war that will trigger a new Financial Tsunami as bad if not worse than that of the Lehman Crisis in 2008. The timing also coincides with escalation of geopolitical clashes between Washington and Venezuela, between India and China and Pakistan over Kashmir, between Turkey with Syria and with Cyprus, as well as the escalating tensions between Hong Kong and Beijing. Are we on the verge of a so-called “perfect storm” that will transform the post-1945 global order ?
After the breakoff of talks between Washington and Beijing at end of July, US President Trump announced his decision to impose added tariff sanctions on another $300 billion of China products. At that point the Peoples’ Bank of China (PBOC) let the exchange rate of the yuan fall below a psychological resistance level of 7.0 to the US dollar. It had kept the currency above 7.0 for more than a decade to stabilize US trade flows. US stocks reacted with one-day falls of well over 3%, paper losses over $1 trillion and a sharp rise in gold, as investors began to prepare for what could become a dangerous currency war with the world’s second largest economy. In addition, reneging on previous pledges to import more US agriculture products, the Beijing government ordered state buyers to stop all US agriculture purchases at the same time. As well, evidence grows that Beijing is making business more difficult for certain foreign firms in China.
Renminbi Currency Reserves
Although the PBOC over the next two days moved to stop the fall of the Renminbi (RMB), easing fears of all-out currency wars, as of this writing the China currency is poised to fall significantly, putting major pressure on other Asian export countries such as Japan and South Korea and India. At the same time China’s special financial window to the Western markets, Hong Kong, stands on the brink of a possible martial law and military crackdown from the PLA troops of the mainland, to end weeks of huge popular protest against new laws that would weaken agreed provisions of Hong Kong autonomy. Martial law in one of Asia’s major financial centers would not be positive for China’s efforts to get the China currency accepted as a major reserve currency for trade, a cornerstone of the government’s long term strategy. It would also not help China attract hundreds of billions of foreign investment in its own bond and stock markets.
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