China Rattles Markets With Yuan Devaluation

In other words: China has officially entered the currency wars.

 

China devalued the yuan by the most in two decades, a move that rippled through global markets as policy makers stepped up efforts to support exporters and boost the role of market pricing in Asia’s largest economy.

The central bank cut its daily reference rate by 1.9 percent, triggering the yuan’s biggest one-day drop since China unified official and market exchange rates in January 1994. The People’s Bank of China called the change a one-time adjustment and said it will strengthen the market’s ability to determine the daily fixing.

Chinese authorities had been propping up the yuan to deter capital outflows, protect foreign-currency borrowers and make a case for official reserve status at the International Monetary Fund. Tuesday’s announcement suggests policy makers are now placing a greater emphasis on efforts to combat the deepest economic slowdown since 1990 and reduce the government’s grip on the financial system. Continue reading

Russia Sanctions Accelerate Risk to Dollar Dominance

While no one’s suggesting the dollar will lose its status as the main currency of business any time soon, its dominance is ebbing. The greenback’s share of global reserves has already shrunk to under 61 percent from more than 72 percent in 2001. The drumbeat has only gotten louder since the financial crisis in 2008, an event that began in the U.S. when subprime-mortgage loans soured, and the largest emerging-market nations including Russia have vowed to conduct more business in their currencies.“The crisis created a rethink of the dollar-denominated world that we live in,” said Joseph Quinlan, chief market strategist at Bank of America Corp.’s U.S. Trust, which oversees about $380 billion. “This nasty turn between Russia and the West related to sanctions, that can be an accelerator toward a more multicurrency world.”

Such a transformation may take as long as 25 years, with the dollar remaining “top of the heap” even as other currencies play a greater role, Quinlan said, speaking by phone on Aug. 4 from New York. Continue reading