Sunday, April 29, 2007
(From THE WALL STREET JOURNAL)
· By Rick Carew and J.R. Wu
BEIJING -- For the seventh time in less than a year, China's central bank raised the share of deposits banks must keep on reserve as the government struggles to soak up capital and keep the country's economy from overheating.
The move, which was announced yesterday and takes effect May 15, follows accelerated economic growth and an uptick in inflation indicators. The government announced this month that gross domestic product, or the total value of goods and services produced, expanded at a faster-than-expected 11.1% in the first quarter.
Economists had expected the government to take further measures to tighten money supply around tomorrow's May Day holiday and said that in coming weeks the People's Bank of China could implement even more measures -- including a rate increase -- to contain upward pressure on prices and slow growth from the blistering pace of the first quarter.
The central bank said on its Web site yesterday that the increase in reserve ratio is aimed at "strengthening the management of liquidity in the banking system" and guiding "the reasonable growth of credit."
Still, economists said increases to the reserve ratio have so far achieved little, if any, of their desired effect. The newly announced increase will bring the reserve-requirement ratio -- the share of deposits that lenders must keep with the central bank -- up half a percentage point to 11% for most banks. The increase, in theory, reduces the amount available to banks to lend, though in practice many Chinese banks already keep more than the minimum on reserve.
"The past two years of experience in China has shown that [reserve-ratio] changes are an ineffective policy tool to control monetary expansion," Hong Liang, a Hong Kong-based Goldman Sachs economist, said in a research note after the increase was announced. Such ratio increases are "simply not binding on banks' capabilities to lend," Ms. Liang said.
Behind the flush liquidity in the domestic economy is China's booming trade surplus, or margin by which exports exceed imports, and the central bank's intervention to keep the value of the domestic currency from appreciating too quickly as a result. The central bank pays out yuan to banks to buy their dollars, pumping cash into the economy.
Because many investors believe the reserve-requirement increase signals the government's resolve to continue employing tightening measures, the move could cause traders to push domestic shares lower in trading today -- the last day China's markets are open before a weeklong holiday. But any selling is likely to be limited, analysts said.
"The People's Bank tightened at this juncture to give the markets a little time to digest this increase," said Jing Ulrich, chairwoman of China equities at J.P. Morgan & Co. "This one hike alone won't trigger a major selloff."
The acceleration in China's economic growth, driven in significant part by bank lending to new investment projects, has forced Beijing to pull a variety of monetary-policy levers since last year. It has also enacted administrative measures to cool sectors such as property and steel, which threaten to push prices higher. The latest reserve-ratio increase is the second in a month.
China's consumer-price index rose 3.3% in March and 2.7% in the first quarter, compared with a year earlier. That pickup has sparked concerns that after muted inflation in recent years, rising production capacity might no longer be able to counterbalance demand, and a surge in prices could be ahead for the world's fastest-growing major economy.
"If the inflation rate continues to climb, if the momentum of fixed-asset investment growth doesn't slow down, and if the asset prices rise too quickly, the central bank definitely will tighten further," said Yu Yongding, a professor and former member of central bank's monetary-policy committee.
Victoria Ruan and Rose Yu contributed to this article.
Truly, I think the higher reserve requirements raises a more fundamental question of the PBOC's defense of the yuan's de facto peg on the dollar. As long as it maintains this defense, the PBOC will have to spend billions per year on buying US treasury bills; and, of course, without a freely-floating exchange rate regime, the PBOC will never be able to conduct monetary policy and soak up excess liquidity by using its funds rate tool.
The case for allowing the yuan to appreciate is stronger than ever -- I have no doubt that reserve requirements will be raised many, many more times unless the government takes some action on this issue. It would be better to do it now while things are good than when the economy tanks and the PBOC absolutely must.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
(Bio on Google Translate: Zhouliangzhi Lofa, male, Han nationality, Yanshan Jiangxi Province, was born in November 1958, August 1976 and participated in work in October 1981 and joined the CPC in tertiary education and work degree, a Bachelor of Laws degree researcher. From August 1976 to June 1978 Commune seam Zhongmu County in Henan Province queue. militia company from June 1978 to July 1983 high voltage electrical engineering from Qinghua University, specialized technology and equipment Students from July 1983 to August 1984 committee head of the Organization Department of Qinghua University in August 1984 July 1986 to ideological and political education in the Faculty of Social Sciences, Tsinghua University students in July 1986 to 19 March 88, the director of student While Section officer from March 1988 to September 1989 Qinghua deputy secretary of the Communist Youth League Committee of study from September 1989 to December 1993 committee of the Qinghua University. students, vice minister Students Deputy Director from December 1993 to December 1994 the Standing Committee of the CPC in 1994 in Chaoyang district party committee December 2000 to January 2000 the Standing Committee of the CPC Chaoyang district party committee. Minister of the Propaganda Department from January 2000 to March 2002 the Standing Committee of the CPC Chaoyang district party committee. executive deputy head of the regional people's government from March 2002 to April 2002 Haidian District CPC Committee, deputy secretary of CPC. First Deputy Director of the Zhongguancun Science and Technology Park Management Committee)
Thursday, April 05, 2007
A friend of mine commented that some inflation problem may be on the horizon. I don't quite agree,
but I do agree that the new FX fund may cause a huge problem down the road. My position, which
I outline below, is that the FX fund does not need to be so huge (projected 200 billion USD). This huge
fund would be a giant moving target for corruption, would concentrate risks, and would hold the government
hostage. I just can't think of any sound reason why the fund needs to be so big. Below is my email.
As always, I love the bearish analysis, though I would not call Xia Bin a "senior official." He is
mainly a scholar who likes the media a bit too much. I suspect that is one reason why he was not
chosen for the monetary policy committee. In any event, investment is a bit higher than what the
authorities would like, but they can keep M2 under control through sterilization. There may be one
or two more rate hikes this year, if it comes to that. Also, let's not forget that at the end of
the day, the State Council can still coordinate another investment crackdown, although its
effectiveness is increasingly short-lived. I still don't see a huge inflation problem on the horizon.
On bonds issued by the new fx entity, I suspect they will raise the money over a year or more and
coordinate it with PBOC sterilization to minimize disruption to the money supply. They don't
want an expectation of sudden monetary contraction, which may put the stock market on a tailspin.
I completely agree with you about the rates of return of the new entity though. It would be hard for
the new entity to earn returns that match the sum of its own bond yield and RMB appreciation.
Also, by putting all their eggs in one basket, the new entity will be a huge moving target for
all kinds of corruption and insider trading schemes. In my opinion, they probably should have
formed multiple investment funds under MOF and Huijin supervision. The funds could have then
competed with one another for the best performance. With one fund, the central government is
held hostage by it, and would have to do whatever it takes to bail out the fund in order to
maintain international confidence in China. In any event, I don't even think I have seen a
good justification for setting up such a large fund.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
This just in--Wang Qishan may be the next party secretary of Guangdong Province, which means a likely entrance into the Politburo. And this means that....he could be China's next Premier!! What is happening now is decidedly weird and unexpected. First of all, we have seen no movement for Hu Jintao's key lieutenants, the two Li's (Li Keqiang, Li Yuanchao). What is in store for them? One can presume two central positions, but there is a limited supply of those. The other two positions that come with more or less automatic seats in the Politburo are now filled by people who are not members of the Hu faction: Xi Jinping to Shanghai and now Wang Qishan to Guangdong.
The recent appointments of Zhang Gaoli to Tianjin and Zhao Hongzhu to Zhejiang also make little sense for Hu. While Zhang is a long-time Jiang crony, Zhao worked closely with Zeng Qinghong in the Central Organization Department between 2000-2002. In Shandong, another important province, we see Li Jianguo, a long-time Li Ruihuan follower, taking the top position. Tianjin, Zhejiang, and Shandong are all economic powerhouses. Yet, the Youth League faction is not taking the top jobs.
I am afraid that Hu is not as powerful as we had thought him to be in the aftermath of the Shanghai corruption case. The recent appointment pattern lends credence to the hypothesis that Zeng Qinghong played a crucial role in the removal of Chen Liangyu from Shanghai. The main thing to watch for during the 17th PC is whether these Zeng Qinghong appointments are a price for his retirement or whether he will stay on despite these appointments. If it is the latter case, Hu Jintao will confront coordinated resistance from powerful local leaders in the next five years.
Troubleshooter to become Guangdong party boss-sources
By Benjamin Kang Lim
BEIJING, April 3 (Reuters) - Beijing's no-nonsense mayor, who
steered the city through the 2003 SARS crisis, is likely to be
named Communist Party boss of the booming southern province of
Guangdong, a hotbed of civil unrest, two sources said on Tuesday.
The appointment is part of a reshuffle of provincial leaders
ahead of the 17th Party Congress this autumn when President Hu
Jintao will further consolidate power and tap a next generation
The party is expected to name Wang Qishan, 58, a "princeling"
son-in-law of late vice premier Yao Yilin, as provincial party
boss of Guangdong soon to replace Zhang Dejiang, the sources with
ties to the leadership told Reuters, requesting anonymity.
Zhang, who sits on the party's 24-member decision-making
Politburo, is a candidate for promotion to vice premier.
"Wang Qishan will go to Guangdong and is a Politburo
candidate," one source said.
It was not immediately known who would replace him as mayor
of the capital little more than a year before it hosts the Summer
Olympics. Candidates include Wang Anshun, named last month as one
of the city's deputy party bosses, and Vice Mayor Ji Lin.
Wang Qishan, a former economist, is no newcomer to Guangdong.
As provincial vice-governor from 1998 to 2000, he oversaw a
clean-up of the troubled trust sector following the 1998 collapse
of Guangdong International Trust and Investment Corp.
A few years later, stung by global criticism that Beijing had
covered up the SARS outbreak and helped its spread around the
world, Chinese leaders turned to Wang to repair the city's image.
From serving as party boss of China's tiniest province, the
southern island of Hainan, Wang was parachuted into Beijing.
The previous mayor had been sacked for bungling the crisis --
the city's worst setback since the 1989 Tiananmen massacre. Now
Wang closed schools, gyms and theatres and urged people to stay
home as the health emergency raged.
Guangdong, neighbouring Hong Kong, has been plagued with
crises since Zhang, 60, took the helm there in 2002. The
province, with its 92 million population, accounted for about
one-eighth of China's economy last year and attracted some $10
billion in foreign direct investment.
In 2005, thugs terrorised the Guangdong village of Taishi,
where residents were petitioning to sack their elected village
chief, who they say is corrupt.
Then came violence in Dongzhou, where villagers say up to 20
may have died when police opened fire on protesters. The
government said three protesters were killed.
"Zhang Dejiang attended university in North Korea. This kind
of person is preposterous... Wang Qishan is much better. He is
experienced in dealing with the media and managing crises,"
political commentator and democracy campaigner Liu Xiaobo said.
Wang is a princeling, a term which refers to the children of
China's incumbent, retired or late leaders.
Another princeling, Xi Jinping, was named party boss of
Shanghai last month, replacing Chen Lianyu who was ousted over a
social security fund scandal.
Wang was president of China Construction Bank, one of the
country's four big state banks, from 1996 to 1997 and minister of
economic restructuring from 2000 to 2002.