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Congress, Treasury, and the Accountability of Exchange Rate Policy: How the 1988 Trade Act Should Be Reformed

  • C. Randall Henning

    ()

    (Peterson Institute for International Economics)

The controversy within the United States over Chinese exchange rate policy has generated a series of legislative proposals to restrict the discretion of the Treasury Department in determining currency manipulation and to reform the department’s accountability to Congress. This paper reviews Treasury’s reports to Congress on exchange rate policy—introduced by the 1988 Trade Act—and Congress’s treatment of them. It finds that the accountability process has often not worked well in practice: The reports provide only a partial basis for effective congressional oversight. For its part, Congress held hearings on less than half of the reports and overlooked some important substantive issues. Several recommendations can improve guidance to the Treasury, standards for assessment, and congressional oversight. These include (1) refining the criteria used to determine currency manipulation and writing them into law, (2) explicitly harnessing US decisions on manipulation to the International Monetary Fund’s rules on exchange rates, (3) clarifying the general objectives of US exchange rate policy, (4) reaffirming the mandate to seek international macroeconomic and currency cooperation, (5) requiring Treasury to lead an executivewide policy review, and (6) institutionalizing multicommittee oversight of exchange rate policy by Congress. Legislators should strengthen reporting and oversight of broader exchange rate policy in addition to strengthening the provisions targeting manipulation.

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Paper provided by Peterson Institute for International Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number WP07-8.

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Date of creation: Sep 2007
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Handle: RePEc:iie:wpaper:wp07-8
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  1. Barry Eichengreen, 2006. "Global Imbalances and the Lessons of Bretton Woods," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262050846, June.
  2. C. Randall Henning, 2006. "The External Policy of the Euro Area: Organizing for Foreign Exchange Intervention," Working Paper Series WP06-4, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  3. Noland, Marcus, 1997. "Chasing Phantoms: The Political Economy of USTR," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(03), pages 365-387, June.
  4. Michael Dooley & David Folkerts-Landau & Peter Garber, 2005. "An essay on the revived Bretton Woods system," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Feb.
  5. John Williamson, 2007. "Reference Rates and the International Monetary System," Peterson Institute Press: Policy Analyses in International Economics, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number pa82, 03.
  6. C. Randall Henning, 1999. "Exchange Stabilization Fund: Slush Fund or War Chest?, The," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number pa57, December.
  7. Kathryn Dominguez & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1990. "Does Foreign Exchange Intervention Work?," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 16, December.
  8. C. Randall Henning, 1994. "Currencies and Politics in the United States, Germany, and Japan," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 15, December.
  9. Gary Clyde Hufbauer & Yee Wong & Ketki Sheth, 2006. "US-China Trade Disputes: Rising Tides Rising Stakes," Peterson Institute Press: Policy Analyses in International Economics, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number pa78, 03.
  10. Nicholas R. Lardy, 2006. "China: Toward a Consumption-Driven Growth Path," Policy Briefs PB06-6, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  11. I. M. Destler, 2007. "American Trade Politics in 2007: Building Bipartisan Compromise," Policy Briefs PB07-5, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  12. repec:sae:niesru:v:149:y::i:1:p:30-52 is not listed on IDEAS
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