Tuesday, April 4, 2017

China Will Doing Everything They Can to Stay in the IMF's SDR

If your investors, your citizens perceive that the exchange rate is going to break and you're trying to maintain the exchange rate, the way you do it, you use your reserves to buy your own currency. So, if money's going out the door and my currency's trying to get weaker, and I'm trying to hold it up to a certain level, I'm trying to peg it to a certain level, how do I actually do that?

Well, the way I do it if I'm China, and I'm trying to prop up the yuan, I take dollars and I buy the yuan. Some businessman says, "I want to get my yuan out of the country," and I'm the central bank, I say, "Okay, give me your yuan. Here are the dollars," and you send the dollars out of the country. But I buy it at a fixed rate and that's how I maintain the pace. In other words, you have to use up your reserves to maintain the peg if you have an open capital account and the peg's always going to be under stress because of these interest rate and currency differentials. That's what China's doing. It cannot work, they will go broke, you always fail.

Now, having said that, China is not actually going to go broke. They understand what I just described to the listeners, they see this coming, so they're saying to themselves, "What can I do? What can China do to keep it from happening?" Well, they can close the capital account and they're starting to do that in a small way. The problem is it's kind of all or none. You can completely close the capital account and use firing squads for anyone who tries to get the money out of the country, but now you've taken yourself out of the international monetary system. They can't do that. They just got into the international monetary system, the Chinese yuan was just included in the IMF's special drawing rights, that's this world money that the IMF prints.

Having gone to great lengths to join the club, they can't now quit the club and close the capital account. So, they're working around the edges, but it will not be successful and always fails. They could raise interest rates, give up the independent monetary policy and say, "We're going to raise interest rates to 10%." Well, that could work because hey, you put the interest rates that high people will say, "Well, I'll leave my money here. I'm not worried about the devaluation anymore because I'm getting so much interest that I'll keep my money here." The problem with that is going back to what I said earlier about the bad loans, there are companies who are already going bankrupt. What's going to happen if you raise interest rates?

They'll go bankrupt faster and then that's going to cause unemployment, that's going to destabilize the people in the Communist Parry of China, so they can't do that, so what's the third thing? If you can't close the capital account, at least not completely, and if you can't raise interest rates without sinking the economy, what can you do? You can devalue the yuan. That's what they're going to do. That makes that a very easy forecast. Now, I'm not going to say it's going to happen tomorrow morning, but you look at how George Soros broke the Bank of England in 1992, this is how he did it. He just said, "I can sell Sterling longer than you can buy dollars," and he did, and eventually the Bank of England devalued the currency.

That's what China's going to have to do, but now, come over to our friend, Donald Trump, President of the United States. What is his biggest complaint? He says that China's a currency manipulator, they keep their currency too weak. Well, from 2000 to 2014, approximately, that was a valid complaint. They were keeping their currency too weak, but it's not true anymore, as I described. China's using their hard currency reserves to prop the yuan up, actually make it stronger, so it's not true that they're weakening the yuan today. They're actually propping it up, as I said, they're going broke in the process, but what's going to happen if they devalue to save the capital account, to save the reserves? What's that going to do? That's going to inflame Trump and he's going to come down with them with hammer and tongs and tariffs, and we're going to have a trade war with China.

By the way, this has happened time and time again where something starts out as a currency war and it turns into a trade war. It's what happened in the 1930's, and I can kind of see that happening again. So, we're looking at a train wreck, but in terms of what to expect, on August 10th, 2015, China devalued 3% in two days. Not 10%, not 20%, 3%. The U.S. stock market crashed immediately from August 10th to August 31st, 2015. The U.S. stock market went down over 10%. Think about where you were at the end of the summer in 2015, on vacation or taking the kids back to school or whatever, but people thought they were staring into the abyss.

Now, the Fed came out, they didn't hike rates in September '15, as expected. That was the famous liftoff which got postponed and there was a lot of happy talk, and yeah, the market turned around and I know it's at an all-time high, but for those three weeks you saw the market completely crash. Well, what do you think's going to happen if China devalues 5% or 10%? It's going to be even worse. So, there's just some big, big stressors in the system and I'm watching them all very closely. Interesting times.

- Source, Minyanville