【英语中国】中国货币篮子里面装的啥?

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2010-6-24 12:17

小艾摘要: Investors could be forgiven for being skeptical about China's announcement over the weekend that it will link the exchange rate of the yuan to a basket of currencies.Back in 2005, China made a simila ...
Investors could be forgiven for being skeptical about China's announcement over the weekend that it will link the exchange rate of the yuan to a basket of currencies.

Back in 2005, China made a similar announcement, only to allow the yuan to steadily appreciate against the dollar with no apparent reference to a basket.

This time around, however, there are signs that the People's Bank of China may be serious, and could even model its new policy after Singapore, which links its currency to a secret basket of global currencies.

If in fact China starts benchmarking the yuan to a basket, knowing what's in the basket and how it operates will be key to forecasting the value of the currency, a vital question for investors, traders, and businesses around the world.

A currency basket would mean that the yuan could fall as well as rise against the dollar, thus making life harder for speculators. If other currencies in the basket such as the euro or the yen are falling against the dollar, the yuan might fall as well, which could enrage those in the U.S. calling for it to rise.

China could still aim for an overall appreciation if that is what they want. Internally, Beijing would set a target for appreciation or depreciation against the basket as part of its overall macroeconomic policy, as Singapore has long done.

Following China's announcement in July of 2005 that it was ending its 11-year peg to the dollar, analysts found that the yuan was making a steady, almost uninterrupted climb against the dollar. China may have been 'referencing' a basket of currencies, but it didn't seem to be acting on it.

The perceptions that the yuan was on a one-way track upward created unanticipated consequences. Speculative capital flowed into China from abroad, seeking to profit from the predictable appreciation. Those inflows were destabilizing, contributing to inflation and asset bubbles, and compromising the effectiveness of Beijing's macroeconomic tightening.

Aware of those costs, Beijing appeared to change course during a brief period starting in April of 2008, said Bank of America Merrill Lynch economist Lu Ting, and the yuan seemed to begin tracking a trade-weighted basket of currencies. But that experiment was cut short by the financial crisis, and from July onward Beijing essentially froze the yuan against the dollar.

This time around, officials seem at pains to convey that the currency may move down as well as up. In its statements over the weekend, PBOC was careful to stress that the yuan will be flexible 'in both directions.' It also stated repeatedly that the currency should not be tied to the dollar alone.

'It's not appropriate given China's diversification of trade and investment that the yuan is fixed solely to one currency as it won't accurately reflect the real value of the yuan. Multi-currency baskets better reflect the real value of a currency,' the central bank said. 'As far as firms and individuals are concerned, given the diversification of trade and capital, we should not purely measure the yuan against the dollar, but instead assess the yuan against changes in a basket of currencies.'

Such explicit statements lead many analysts to believe that China has shifted its thinking and will now base its daily fixing of the currency on a wider group of currencies. But others are not convinced. Mark Williams, an economist at research group Capital Economics, says allowing the yuan to fall against the dollar in the current political environment would be 'extremely provocative.'

'If they do adopt a basket, I believe it's likely to be a basket composed almost entirely of dollars,' he said. 'It's clear that big decisions on Chinese currency policy are as much political as economic.'

All eyes are now on the yuan's movements, and in particular the central parity rate set daily by the PBOC, around which the yuan is allowed to trade in a narrow band. It's difficult to draw conclusions from the yuan's up-and-down trading in the past few days, but in the weeks and months ahead, traders and investors will be tracking the currency and testing it against their models to determine if it is based on a basket, and if so, what exactly is in that basket.

China has in the past given hints as to the composition of the basket. In 2007, PBOC Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said at a press conference that there are 20 currencies in the basket. In 2005, he said the basket is weighted mostly to the U.S. dollar, the euro, the Japanese yen and the Korean won. The currencies of Singapore, the U.K., Malaysia, Russia, Australia, Canada and Thailand are also included, he said.

At the time, market participants weren't very focused on the basket's composition, since it was clear that it wasn't determining the yuan's value. This time, if China is indeed setting the yuan against the basket, forecasters, traders, banks and exporters will all be keen to determine its exact composition.

Secrecy is key. If the composition of the basket were known to the market, speculators would know where the yuan is headed based on the movements of other currencies. Beijing wants to eliminate the possibility of a 'one-way bet' such as that which existed under its previous crawling peg to the U.S. dollar. Singapore's basket is weighted according to its level of trade with other nations, but its exact composition is not disclosed.

'If we have a policy to say the yuan will appreciate against a basket, can you really speculate on that? Yes, you can. But it's much more difficult than if you say it will appreciate against the dollar,' said Lu.

Of course, market participants will come up with estimates of the basket's composition to guide their trading, as Bank of America Merrill Lynch does, but there's no certainty. Beijing could change the basket at any time without telling anyone. Since its currency policy is not explicit, China could also depart from basing the value on a basket whenever it chooses. 'The model is not necessarily right. We've got our model, but other banks have their own very different models,' said Lu.

Lu constructed a model of the basket based on China's level of trade with other nations, as well as the composition of its foreign debt holdings and foreign direct investment. He estimates that the U.S. dollar has a 40.3% weight in the basket, making it the still the largest determinant of the yuan's value. Next comes the euro at 16.0%, and the yen at 12.6%. Illustrating the guesswork that goes into the process, Lu also figures that India, Brazil, Indonesia and the Philippines have grown in importance to China's trade since Zhou listed important currencies in 2005, so he added them to the model.

Lu said it will take around two months of observing the yuan's movement before anyone can draw a conclusion as to whether the yuan is indeed tracking such a basket.

Had China been strictly tying the yuan to a basket in recent months, it would have probably followed the euro down, thus falling against the dollar. Royal Bank of Scotland economist Ben Simpfendorfer said a yuan that falls significantly against the dollar is 'unthinkable' in the near term. Such political considerations mean that China is unlikely to adopt a strict basket-based system in the near term, he said. 'Ultimately they may be headed in that direction, but I think we're years away.'

对于中国周末表示将把人民币汇率与一篮子货币联系起来的政策声明,投资者的怀疑态度不无道理。

回溯2005年,中国曾作出相似的声明,当时只允许人民币兑美元稳步升值,而没有明确提到一篮子货币。

相关报导美银/美林经济学家陆挺说,意识到这些成本后,北京似乎在2008年4月开始的较短期内调整了方向,人民币好像开始跟随加权一篮子货币波动。但这一尝试因金融危机戛然而止,从7月起北京基本结束了人民币盯住美元的操作。

这次官方在传达人民币可能会上下波动的信息时似乎很痛苦。在周末的声明中,中国央行小心翼翼地强调,人民币将在“两个方向”具有弹性,并重申人民币不应只盯住美元。

Reuters一名银行职员在整理人民币。中国央行表示,人民币汇率如果盯住单一货币变化,不适应贸易投资货币多元化的需要,也不能反映汇率的实际水平。多种货币组成的货币篮子及其变化更能准确反映真实的汇率水平。对企业和居民来说,在当前贸易和资本往来多元化的格局下,不宜单纯依据美元来衡量人民币汇率,而应从双边汇率转向多边汇率,更多关注篮子汇率变化,以人民币相对一篮子货币的变化来看待人民币汇率水平。

这样明确的声明使许多分析师认为,中国已改变了想法,将把人民币每日定盘价与更多货币联系起来。但有人却不相信,研究公司Capital Economics经济学家威廉姆斯(Mark Williams)说,如果在当前政治环境下允许人民币兑美元走软,将“极具挑畔性”。

他说,如果他们采纳一篮子货币,我认为篮子里可能几乎全是美元。很明显中国关于货币政策的重大决定既是经济的,也是政治的。

目前万众瞩目人民币的波动,尤其是中国央行每日设定的中间价,围绕中间价人民币可以在窄幅区间内交易。目前很难从过去几个交易日人民币的涨跌中获得结论,但未来几周和数月,交易员和投资者将追踪人民币走向,测试他们自己制作的模型,以确定人民币是否与一篮子货币联系,如果真是这样的话,还要知道篮子内的货币具体是什么。

过去中国曾暗示过一篮子货币的构成。2007年中国央行行长周小川曾在一次新闻发布会上说,篮子里包括20种货币。2005年他说篮子里的货币构成以美元、欧元、日圆和韩圆为主,其他货币还包括新加坡、英国、马来西亚、俄罗斯、澳大利亚、加拿大和泰国的货币。

当时市场人士并不是特别关注篮子里的货币构成,因为显然它不能决定人民币价值。这次如果中国确实允许人民币盯住一篮子货币,那么预测机构、交易员、银行和出口商都希望确定它的实际构成。

保密才是重要的。如果市场知道了篮子里的货币构成,投机客基于其他货币的走势,就会知道人民币的走向。北京方面希望减少“单向押注”的可能性,就像此前浮动盯住美元时的状况。新加坡一篮子货币是根据与其他国家的贸易水平而定,但具体构成没有披露。

陆挺说,如果政策表示人民币兑一篮子货币将升值,你真的敢这样投机吗?你当然可以,但这比押注人民币兑美元升值更加困难。

当然市场人士将估测篮子货币的构成以指导他们的交易,一如美银/美林的作法,但这有不确定性。北京方面可能在任一时间调整篮子构成,而不告诉任何人。由于中国的货币政策并不明确,中国随时有权选择可以不再联系一篮子货币。陆挺说,这一模型不一定正确,我们有自己的模型,但其他银行也有非常不同的模型。

陆挺建议的一篮子货币模型基于中国与其他国家的贸易水平,而且还考虑到中国持有的外债和外国直接投资水平。他估计美元在篮子里所占比重为40.3%,美元仍是决定人民币汇价的最大因素。接下来欧元占16.0%,日圆占12.6%。为了表明猜测是不断进化的,陆挺指出2005年周小川列出若干重要货币后,印度、巴西、印尼和菲律宾对中国贸易的重要性不断增加,所以他把这些货币加入了模型。

陆挺说,还要花大约两个月时间来观察人民币的走势,才能得出人民币是否真的与一篮子货币联系的结论。

如果近几个月中国一直严格把人民币与一篮子货币联系,那么随着欧元下跌,人民币兑美元可能已经走软了。苏格兰皇家银行(Royal Bank of Scotland)经济学家贝哲民(Ben Simpfendorfer)说,短期内人民币兑美元大幅下跌是“不可能的”,这样的政治考虑意味着短期内中国不太可能采用严格的一篮子货币体系。他说,最终他们可能向那个方向发展,但我认为还需要几年时间。

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