Geithner- U.S. Will Urge China to Boost Interest Rates

Even more confused than the usual out of paradigm nonsense from Geithner highlighted below:

U.S. Will Urge China to Boost Interest Rates in Washington Talks

By Rebecca Christie and Ian Katz

May 9 (Bloomberg) — Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner will urge China to allow higher interest rates when he meets with Chinese leaders this week, as the U.S. extends its push for a stronger yuan.

Geithner will say China should relax controls on the financial system, give foreign banks and insurers more access and make it easier for investors to buy Chinese financial assets, said David Loevinger, the Treasury Department’s senior coordinator for China. Officials from both nations are meeting in Washington today and tomorrow as part of the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

The US Treasury shamelessly fronting for the financial sector.

The U.S. is pushing for greater market access for financial firms as part of its broader effort to persuade China to ease the restrictions blamed for fueling global imbalances. U.S. officials argue that a yuan kept artificially cheap to help exporters also makes it harder for China to lift interest rates and curb an inflation rate that hit a 32-month high in March.

Budget Deficits

Chinese officials, for their part, blame record U.S. budget deficits for contributing to lopsided global flows of trade and investment. China held $1.15 trillion in Treasuries at the end of February, more than any other country. The U.S. trade deficit with China came to $18.8 billion in February.

Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said on May 6 that China is paying “close attention” to U.S. efforts to reduce its budget deficit, and his country will focus on improving the quality of itsexchange-rate mechanism.

Yes, China is chiming in on US fiscal policy and no one of political consequence believes they are wrong.

Geithner and Vice Premier Wang Qishan will meet alongside Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and State Councilor Dai Bingguo at this week’s meetings, which will draw about 30 top Chinese officials.

The Obama administration and U.S. lawmakers say China’s currency policy gives the nation’s exporters an unfair competitive advantage, costing U.S. jobs. Geithner is trying to convince Chinese officials that a stronger yuan has benefits for their economy.

‘Enhanced’ Ability

Geithner said last week that allowing the yuan to rise and making their financial system less dependent on government- controlled interest rates would give Chinese leaders an “enhanced” ability to damp inflation.

This just gets stupider and stupider with each out of paradigm iteration.

The Treasury argues that higher interest rates on deposits will also encourage consumer spending in China, another way to reduce imbalances.

Here he takes my position on monetary policy- depending on the institutional structure, higher rates add to aggregate demand via the income interest channels. But it’s totally confused in this context of fighting inflation, as higher demand adds to price pressures, and also adds to cost pressures via the cost of capital for businesses.

“We’re going to encourage China to move more quickly in lifting the ceiling on interest rates on bank deposits in order to put more money into Chinese consumers’ pockets,” Loevinger said at a briefing last week in Washington.

Investors are betting the yuan’s rise may be limited over the next 12 months. Twelve-month non-deliverable yuan forwards dropped 0.81 percent last week to 6.3520 per dollar on May 6, their biggest weekly loss of the year, on speculation that China won’t allow faster appreciation to reduce inflation.

Fundamentally, inflation and currency depreciation are pretty much the same thing. So ultimately inflation goes hand in hand with currency depreciation, as inflation removes the ability to ‘allow faster appreciation’.

17-Year High

The yuan closed little changed in Shanghai on May 6, ending a run of seven weekly gains that drove the currency to a 17-year high of 6.4892 on April 29, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trade System.

John Frisbie, president of the U.S.-China Business Council, said support for a stronger yuan among Chinese leaders has increased in the past year.

Yes, looks like inflation is bad enough in their view to throw their exporters under the bus via currency appreciation (for as long as it can last) in what looks like a desperation move.

“The strong hand has switched over to those who are saying that the exchange rate can help us fight inflation,” Frisbie said in a telephone interview. He said his group, whose members include companies such as Apple Inc. (AAPL), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Coca-Cola Co. (KO), wants China to resume opening its financial services sector to allow more foreign investment.

The American Chamber of Commerce in China said in a report last month that foreign banks play an “insignificant role” in China.

Foreign lenders’ market share in China has dropped since the government first opened the industry in December 2006. Banks such as New York-based Citigroup Inc. (C) and London-based HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) want to tap household and corporate savings that reached $10 trillion in January as China overtook Japan to become the world’s second-biggest economy.

Foxes into the hen house…

Foreign Exchange

The U.S. has delayed its semi-annual foreign-exchange report, which had been due on April 15, until after this week’s meetings. The previous report, due on Oct. 15, 2010, was released on Feb. 4 and declined to brand China a currency manipulator while saying the No. 2 U.S. trading partner has made “insufficient” progress on allowing the yuan to rise.

The yuan goes beyond the U.S. and China to become “a multilateral issue, in terms of the impact on Brazil, Korea, Thailand and India,” said Edwin Truman, a former Federal Reserve and Treasury official who is now a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

‘Causing Trouble’

The “slow” appreciation of the yuan “relative to the dollar in an environment where the dollar is going down against other currencies is causing trouble for other countries and currencies,” Truman said.

Diplomats at the Strategic and Economic Dialogue also will discuss events in the Middle East, including military operations in Libya and the ramifications of the region’s popular uprisings.

Officials are likely to discuss efforts to revive six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program. Negotiations between the two Koreas, Russia, Japan, China and the U.S. stalled in December 2008 and tensions flared on the peninsula after North Korea’s Nov. 23 bombing of a South Korean island.

Yes, mistakenly believing we are dependent on China to fund our deficit spending has us kowtowing on human rights and nuclear weapons.

“We want to compare notes on where we stand with respect to North Korea, and we will be very clear on what our expectations are for moving forward,” Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asia, said on May 5.