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China's Economic Growth, Structural Change and the Lewisian Turning Point

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  • FUKAO Kyoji
  • Tangjun YUAN

Abstract

In a country such as China, which maintains strict controls on foreign exchange and frequently intervenes in the currency market, it is not surprising that the local currency is persistently undervalued in nominal terms. Normally, one would expect such a policy of deliberate currency undervaluation to result in a sharp rise in domestic prices, with abnormally low prices reversed not through an appreciation of the nominal exchange rate but through a rise in domestic prices. Why is this not occurring in China? A possible explanation is that, due to certain structural reasons, the equilibrium real exchange rate for China is considerably lower than that of other developing countries. Taking this hypothesis as our point of departure, we examine how undervalued the Chinese yuan is in terms of purchasing power parity by comparing China's experience with other developing countries and the development process of developed countries in the past. In addition, we construct an open economy growth model with three sectors, where - similar to the Lewis growth model - there is surplus labor in the primary sector. Using this model, we analyze the relationship between the economic growth process and the level of absolute prices (real exchange rate). We show that the absolute price level will not increase until the economy reaches the Lewisian turning point. In addition, we show that in an economy like China, where there are strong barriers to the migration of labor to the manufacturing sector and where the ratio of net exports of goods and services to GDP is high, the economy will not reach the turning point until GDP per worker reaches a certain level.

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Paper provided by Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI) in its series Discussion papers with number 12056.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:eti:dpaper:12056

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  1. Olivier Blanchard & Francesco Giavazzi & Filipa Sa, 2005. "The U.S. Current Account and the Dollar," NBER Working Papers 11137, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Lewis, W Arthur, 1979. "The Dual Economy Revisited," The Manchester School of Economic & Social Studies, University of Manchester, vol. 47(3), pages 211-29, September.
  3. Yin-Wong Cheung & Menzie D. Chinn & Eiji Fujii, 2009. "China's Current Account and Exchange Rate," Working Papers 142009, Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research.
  4. SATO Kiyotaka & SHIMIZU Junko & Nagendra SHRESTHA & Zhaoyong ZHANG, 2010. "New Estimates of the Equilibrium Exchange Rate: The case for the Chinese renminbi," Discussion papers 10045, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
  5. Fukao, Kyoji & Ishido, Hikari & Ito, Keiko, 2003. "Vertical Intra-Industry Trade and Foreign Direct Investment in East Asia," Discussion Paper Series a434, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  6. Sebastian Edwards, 2005. "Is the U.S. Current Account Deficit Sustainable? And If Not, How Costly is Adjustment Likely To Be?," NBER Working Papers 11541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Samuelson, Paul A, 1994. "Facets of Balassa-Samuelson Thirty Years Later," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(3), pages 201-26, October.
  8. Bela Balassa, 1964. "The Purchasing-Power Parity Doctrine: A Reappraisal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 72, pages 584.
  9. Kyoji Fukao & Kozo Kiyota & Ximing Yue, 2006. "China's Long-Term International Trade Statistics: By Commodity, 1952-1964 and 1981-2000," Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series d05-147, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  10. Jeffrey A. Frankel & C. Fred Bergsten & Michael L. Mussa, 1994. "Exchange Rate Policy," NBER Chapters, in: American Economic Policy in the 1980s, pages 293-366 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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