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Making sense of China’s excessive foreign reserves

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  • Yi Wen
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Abstract

Large uninsured risk, severe borrowing constraints, and rapid income growth can create excessively high household saving rates and large current account surpluses for emerging economies. Therefore, the massive foreign-reserve buildups by China are not necessarily the intended outcome of any government policies or an undervalued home currency, but instead a natural consequence of the country’s rapid economic growth in conjunction with an inefficient financial system (or lack of timely financial reform). A tractable growth model of precautionary saving is provided to quantitatively explain China’s extraordinary path of trade surplus and foreign-reserve accumulation in recent decades. Ironically, the analysis suggests that without a well-developed domestic financial market, the value of the renminbi (RMB) may significantly depreciate, instead of appreciate, once the Chinese government abandons the linked exchange rate and the massive amount of precautionary savings of Chinese households are unleashed toward international financial markets to search for better returns.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2011-006.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2011-006

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Keywords: International trade ; Balance of trade - China ; International finance;

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  1. Jiandong Ju & Shang-Jin Wei, 2007. "Domestic Institutions and the Bypass Effect of Financial Globalization," NBER Working Papers 13148, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Ricardo J. Caballero & Emmanuel Farhi & Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, 2006. "An Equilibrium Model of "Global Imbalances" and Low Interest Rates," NBER Working Papers 11996, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Ceyhun Bora Durdu & Enrique G. Mendoza & Marco E. Terrones, 2007. "Precautionary Demand for Foreign Assets in Sudden Stop Economies: An Assessment of the New Merchantilism," NBER Working Papers 13123, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Olivier Jeanne & Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, 2005. "Capital Flows to Developing Countries: the Allocation Puzzle," 2005 Meeting Papers 240, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. Damiano Sandri, 2010. "Growth and Capital Flows with Risky Entrepreneurship," IMF Working Papers 10/37, International Monetary Fund.
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Cited by:
  1. Meixing Dai, 2011. "Motivations and strategies for a real revaluation of the Yuan," Working Papers of BETA 2011-23, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.

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