In recent months the Chinese central bank (the People’s Bank of China) has taken a number of measures to boost aggregate demand and arrest the slowing economic growth rate. Such measures have included quantitative easing, cuts in interest rates, a devaluation of the yuan and daily injections of liquidity through open-market operations. It has now announced that from 1 March it will reduce the reserve requirement ratio (RRR) for banks by a half percentage point.
The RRR is the percentage of liabilities that banks are required to hold in the form of cash reserves – money that could otherwise have been used for lending. This latest move will bring the compulsory ratio for the larger banks down from 17.5% to 17%. This may sound like only a small reduction, but it will release some ¥650bn to ¥690bn (around $100bn) of reserves that can be used for lending.
The cut from 17.5% to 17% is the fourth this year. Throughout 2014 and 2015 it was stable at 20%.
The hope is that this lending will not only help to boost economic growth but also stimulate demand for the consumption of services. The measure can thus be seen as part of a broader strategy as the authorities seek to re-balance the economy away from its reliance on basic manufacturing towards a more diversified economy. It is also hoped that the extra demand will help to boost jobs and thus provide more opportunities for people laid off from traditional manufacturing industries.
It is expected that further reductions in the RRR will be announced later in the year – perhaps a further 1.5 to 2 percentage points.
But what will be the effect of the releasing of reserves? Will the boost be confined to $100bn or will there be a money multiplier effect? It is certainly hoped by the authorities that this will stimulate the process of credit creation. But how much credit is created depends not just on banks’ willingness to lend, but also on the demand for credit. And that depends very much on expectations about future rates of economic growth.
One issue that concerns both the Chinese and overseas competitors is the effect of the measure on the exchange rate. By increasing the money supply, the measure will put downward pressure on the exchange rate as it will boost the demand for imports.
The Chinese authorities have been intervening in the foreign exchange market to arrest a fall in the yuan (¥) because of worries about capital outflows from China. The yuan was devalued by 2.9% in August 2015 from approximately ¥1 = ¢16.11 to approximately ¥1 = ¢15.64 (see chart) and after a modest rally in November 2015 it began falling again, with the Chinese authorities being unwilling to support it at the November rate. By January 2016, it had fallen a further 2.8% to approximately ¢15.20 (click here for a PowerPoint file of the chart).
But despite the possible downward pressure on the yuan from the cut in the reserve requirement, it will probably put less downward pressure than a cut in interest rates. This is because an interest rate cut has a bigger effect on capital outflows as it directly reduces the return on deposits in China. The central bank had already cut its benchmark 1-year lending rate from 6% to 4.35% between November 2014 and October 2015 and seems reluctant at the current time to cut it further.
China central bank resumes easing cycle to cushion reform pain Reuters, Pete Sweeney (29/2/16)
China cuts reserve requirements for banks to boost economy PressTV (29/2/16)
China Moves to Bolster Lending by Easing Banks’ Reserve Ratio New York Times, Neil Gough (29/2/16)
Economists React: China’s ‘Surprise’ Bank Reserve Cut Wall Street Journal (29/2/16)
China Cuts Banks’ Reserve Requirement Ratio Bloomberg, Enda Curran (29/2/16)
China Reserve-Ratio Cut Signals Growth Is Priority Over Yuan Bloomberg, Andrew Lynch (29/2/16)
China reserve ratio cut not a signal of impending large-scale stimulus: Xinhua Reuters, Samuel Shen and John Ruwitch (2/3/16)
China injects cash to boost growth and counter capital outflows Financial Times, Gabriel Wildau (29/2/16)
China’s Economic Policy Akin To Pushing On A String Seeking Alpha, Bruce Wilds (2/3/16)
China cuts banks’ reserve ratio for fifth time in a year: Why and what’s next Channel NewsAsia, Tang See Kit, (1/3/16)
- Explain what is mean by the required reserve ratio (RRR).
- Explain how credit creation takes place.
- What will determine the amount of credit creation that will take place as a result of the $100bn of reserves in Chinese banks released for lending by the cut in the RRR from 17.5% to 17%.
- What prompted the recent cuts in the RRR?
- Why may China’s recent monetary policy measures be like pushing on a string?
- Is the reduction in the RRR a purely demand-side measure, or will it have supply-side consequences?
- Explain how different types of monetary policy affect the exchange rate.
- Should other countries welcome the cut in China’s RRR? Explain.
The period from the end of the Second World War until the financial crisis of 2007–8 was one of increasing globalisation. World trade rose considerably faster than world GDP. The average annual growth in world GDP from 1950 to 2007 was 4.2%; the average annual growth in world merchandise exports was 6.7%.
And there were other ways in which the world was becoming increasingly interconnected. Cross-border financial flows grew strongly, especially in the 1990s and up to 2007. In the early 1990s, global cross-border capital flows were around 4% of world annual GDP; by 2007, they had risen to over 20%. The increasing spread of multinational corporations, improvements in transport, greater international movement of labour and improved communications were all factors that contributed to a deepening of globalisation.
But have things begun to change? Have we entered into an era of ‘deglobalisation’? Certainly some indicators would suggest this. In the three years 2012–14, world exports grew more slowly than world GDP. Global cross-border financial flows remain at about one-third of their 2007 peak. Increased banking regulations are making it harder for financial institutions to engage in international speculative activities.
What is more, with political turmoil in many countries, multinational corporations are more cautious about investing in such markets. Many countries are seeking to contain immigration. Fears of global instability are encouraging many firms to look inwards. After more than 13 years, settlement of the Doha round of international trade negotiations still seems a long way off. Protectionist measures abound, often amount to giving favourable treatment to domestic firms.
The Observer article considers whether the process of increased globalisation is now dead. Or will better banking regulations ultimately encourage capital flows to grow again; and will the inexorable march of technological progress give international trade and investment a renewed boost? Will lower energy and commodity prices help to reboot the global economy? Will the ‘Great Recession’ have resulted in what turns out to be merely a blip in the continued integration of the global economy? Is it, as the Huffington Post article states, that ‘globalization has a gravitational pull that is hard to resist’? See what the articles and speech have to say and what they conclude.
Borders are closing and banks are in retreat. Is globalisation dead? The Observer, Heather Stewart (23/5/15)
Is Globalization Finally Dead? Huffington Post, Peter Hall (6/5/14)
Financial “deglobalization”?: capital flows, banks, and the Beatles Bank of England, Kristin Forbes (18/11/14)
- Define globalisation.
- How does globalisation affect the distribution of income (a) between countries; (b) within countries?
- Why has the Doha round of trade negotiations stalled?
- Examine the factors that might be leading to deglobalisation.
- What are the implications of banking deglobalisation for the UK?
- Are protectionist measures always undesirable in terms of increasing global GDP?
- What forces of globalisation are hard to resist?
While much of the UK is struggling to recover from recession, the London economy is growing strongly. This is reflected in strong investment, a growth in jobs and rapidly rising house prices.
There are considerable external economies of scale for businesses locating in London. There is a pool of trained labour and complementary companies providing inputs and services are located in close proximity. Firms create positive externalities to the benefit of other firms in the same industry or allied industries.
London is a magnet for entrepreneurs and highly qualified people. Innovative ideas and business opportunities flow from both business dealings and social interactions. As Boris Johnson says in the podcast, “It’s like a cyclotron on bright people… People who meet each other and spark off each other, and that’s when you get the explosion of innovation.”
Then there is a regional multiplier effect. As the London economy grows, so people move to London, thereby increasing consumption and stimulating further production and further employment. Firms may choose to relocate to London to take advantage of its buoyant economy. There is also an accelerator effect as a booming London encourages increased investment in the capital, further stimulating economic growth.
But the movement of labour and capital to London can dampen recovery in other parts of the economy and create a growing divide between London and other parts of the UK, such as the north of England.
The podcast examines ‘agglomeration‘ in London and how company success breeds success of other companies. It also looks at some of the downsides.
Boris Johnson: London is cyclotron on bright people BBC Today Programme, Evan Davis (3/3/14)
London will always win over the rest of the UK The Telegraph, Alwyn Turner (2/3/14)
Evan Davis’s Mind The Gap – the view from Manchester The Guardian, Helen Pidd (4/3/14)
London incubating a new economy London Evening Standard, Phil Cooper (Founder of Kippsy.com) (10/2/14)
Reports and data
London Analysis, Small and Large Firms in London, 2001 to 2012 ONS (8/8/13)
Regional Labour Market Statistics, February 2014 ONS (19/2/14)
London Indicators from Labour Market Statistics (11 Excel worksheets) ONS (19/2/14)
Annual Business Survey, 2011 Regional Results ONS (25/7/13)
Economies of agglomeration Wikipedia
- Distinguish between internal and external economies of scale.
- Why is London such an attractive location for companies?
- Are there any external diseconomies of scale from locating in London?
- In what ways does the expansion of London (a) help and (b) hinder growth in the rest of the UK?
- Examine the labour statistics (in the links above) for London and the rest of the UK and describe and explain the differences.
The US dollar has been used as the international currency for the majority of international trade. Around 85% of foreign-exchange transactions are trades between US dollars and other currencies. As the first article below, from the Wall St Journal, states:
When a South Korean wine wholesaler wants to import Chilean cabernet, the Korean importer buys US dollars, not pesos, with which to pay the Chilean exporter. Indeed, the dollar is virtually the exclusive vehicle for foreign-exchange transactions between Chile and Korea, despite the fact that less than 20% of the merchandise trade of both countries is with the US.
… The dollar is the currency of denomination of half of all international debt securities. More than 60% of the foreign reserves of central banks and governments are in dollars.
But things are gradually changing as countries increasingly by-pass the dollar. Several countries have reached agreements with China to allow companies to exchange their currencies directly in so-called ‘currency swap‘ arrangements (see also). These include Japan, Australia, the UK, France/the eurozone, Argentina, Brazil, South Korea, Chile and Russia. But while these currency swap arrangements apply to current account transactions, there are still considerable controls of currency movements on China’s capital and financial accounts.
So what will be the implications for the USA and for China? What will be the impact on currency and bonds markets? The following articles explore the issues.
Why the Dollar’s Reign Is Near an End Wall Street Journal, Barry Eichengreen (1/3/11)
Beijing Continues Inexorable Push for Internationalisation of the Renminbi iNVEZZ, Alice Young (22/4/13)
RMB: Advance of the renminbi Emerging Markets, Elliot Wilson (4/5/13)
China’s new leaders to quicken yuan reform, but caution remains Reuters, Kevin Yao and Heng Xie (7/5/13)
Japan, China to launch direct yen-yuan trade on June 1 Reuters, Tetsushi Kajimoto (29/5/12)
China and Japan to start direct yen-yuan trade in June BBC News (29/5/12)
BOE Plans to Sign Yuan Currency Swap Deal With China Bloomberg, Fergal O’Brien & Svenja O’Donnell (22/2/13)
Bank of England, PBOC close to RMB/GBP swap agreement Emerging Markets (22/2/13)
China and Brazil sign $30bn currency swap agreement BBC News (27/3/13)
China, Brazil sign trade, currency deal before BRICS summit Reuters, Agnieszka Flak and Marina Lopes (26/3/13)
Direct trading to boost global use of yuan China Daily, Wei Tian (10/4/13)
Paris vies to be yuan hub China Daily, Li Xiang (19/4/13)
France plans currency swap line with China: paper Reuters (12/4/13)
Yuan Replaces the Dollar in China’s Dealings With France, Britain, Australia, as the War-Debt Continues to Destroy US Currency Al-Jazeerah (6/5/13)
China Takes Another Stab At The Dollar, Launches Currency Swap Line With France ZeroHedge, Tyler Durden (13/4/13)
- What are the ‘three pillars’ that have supported the dollar’s dominance?
- What is changing in the global economy to undermine this dominance?
- What will be the impact on the US government and US companies?
- What steps has China taken to ‘internationalise’ the renminbi (denominated in yuan)?
- Is the role of the euro likely to increase or decrease as an internationally held and used currency?
- What dangers are there for investors in holding all their wealth in dollar-denominated assets?
- Why may the increasing internationalisation of the euro and renminbi lead to less volatility between them and the dollar?
- How will the growing internationalisation of the euro and renminbi benefit eurozone and Chinese banks and internationally trading companies?
- What more does China need to do before the renminbi can be regarded as a truly global currency?
Paul Volcker was Chair of the US Federal Reserve from 1979 to 1987. He was also Chair of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board under President Barack Obama from February 2009 to January 2011. In the webcast and articles below, he reflects on the current state of the world financial system – from regulation, to the euro crisis, to world imbalances, to the system of floating exchange rates.
He argues that global financial systems are vulnerable to breakdowns. What is needed is reform to the system, and for that there needs to be consensus by politicians, regulators and central banks.
But, in the absence of international consensus on some key points, reform will be greatly weakened, if not aborted. The freedom of money, financial markets and people to move – and thus to escape regulation and taxation – might be an acceptable, even constructive, brake on excessive official intervention, but not if a deregulatory race to the bottom prevents adoption of needed ethical and prudential standards.
Perhaps most important is a coherent, consistent approach to dealing with the imminent failure of “systemically important” institutions. Taxpayers and governments alike are tired of bailing out creditors for fear of the destructive contagious effects of failure – even as bailouts encourage excessive risk-taking.
According to Volcker, countries must be prepared to surrender some sovereignty. Policies must be co-ordinated internationally and there must be stronger regulation by international bodies, such as the IMF and stronger concerted action by global organisations, such as the G20.
Left to their own devices, in an era of floating exchange rates, countries may pursue policies that exacerbate global imbalances.
Not so long ago, we were comforted by theorising that floating exchange rates would mediate international adjustments in a timely and orderly way. But, in the real world, many countries, particularly but not limited to small, open economies, simply find it impractical or undesirable to permit their currency to float.
We are left with the certainty, however awkward, that active participation in an open world economy requires some surrender of economic sovereignty. Or, to put the point more positively, it requires a willingness to co-ordinate policies more effectively.
Volcker Urges Global Monetary System Overhaul BloombergBusinessweek (31/5/12)
Is global financial reform possible? Guardian, Paul Volcker (6/6/12)
Volcker Urges Global Financial System Overhaul After Crisis BloombergBusinessweek, Robyn Meredith and Shamim Adam (31/5/12)
- What reforms, according to Volcker, need to be implemented in order for the euro to function effectively without crises?
- What can the USA do to ease the euro crisis?
- What are Volcker’s views on the regulation of the US banking system?
- How are incentive structures in banks related to speculative activities?
- Should banks be allowed to fail?
- What financial imbalances exist between countries?
- What international monetary reforms are required?
- What light can game theory shed on the difficulty of achieving global policy co-ordination?
- Is an international system of floating exchange rates appropriate given the size of international financial flows?