NEW ESTIMATION OF CHINA'S EXCHANGE RATE REGIME

Authors


* Address for correspondence: John F. Kennedy School of Government, 79 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138. Email: jeffrey_frankel@harvard.edu. The author would like to thank Danxia Xie for excellent research assistance and the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government for support. An earlier version of this paper, with appendix tables, is Harvard Kennedy School Research Working Paper 08-077, December 2008.

Abstract

Abstract.  The present paper updates the question: what precisely is the exchange rate regime that China has put into place since 2005, when it announced a move away from the US dollar peg? Is it a basket anchor with the possibility of cumulatable daily appreciations, as was announced at the time? We apply to this question a new approach of estimating countries’ de facto exchange rate regimes, a synthesis of two techniques. One is a technique that has been used in the past to estimate implicit de facto currency weights when the hypothesis is a basket peg with little flexibility. The second is a technique used to estimate the de facto degree of exchange rate flexibility when the hypothesis is an anchor to the US dollar or some other single major currency. Because the RMB and many other currencies today purportedly follow variants of band-basket-crawl, it is important to have available a technique that can cover both dimensions, inferring weights and inferring flexibility. The synthesis adds a variable representing ‘exchange market pressure’ to the currency basket equation, whereby the degree of flexibility is estimated at the same time as the currency weights. This approach reveals that by mid-2007, the RMB basket had switched a substantial part of the US dollar's weight onto the euro. The implication is that the appreciation of the RMB against the US dollar during this period was due to the appreciation of the euro against the dollar, not to any upward trend in the RMB relative to its basket.

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