World Economy

Currency Mismatch a Risk for China

Currency Mismatch a Risk for ChinaCurrency Mismatch a Risk for China

China needs to create deep and liquid markets to avoid currency risks as it makes the yuan a convertible currency, former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said in Shanghai.

“China needs to avoid currency mismatch as it opens its capital account,” Bernanke said at a speech at the Shanghai Forum on Monday. “For a currency to be internationally traded, what you need most is liquid markets. A deep market means people can get their money out,” Bloomberg reported.

China is in the final stages of opening up its capital account, giving global investors greater access to its stock and bond markets while making it easier for citizens to put their money in offshore assets. A freer flow of funds is needed for policy makers to achieve their goal of getting the yuan recognized as a reserve currency when the International Monetary Fund conducts a review in October.

The latest initiative was announced on Friday, when Chinese regulators and their Hong Kong counterparts said that cross-border sales of funds can begin July 1 with an initial quota of 300 billion yuan ($48 billion) in each direction. That comes six months after a link between the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges was opened.

“When opening the capital account you need to make sure the economy is strong enough to handle the fund flows out,” Bernanke said. “An open account is a two-edged sword” and a drop in the currency could cause panic and an exodus of money, he said.

China’s desire to make the yuan a SDR (Special Drawing Rights) currency is for “pride and image”, Bernanke said. “If the yuan becomes an SDR currency it won’t have any effect on the average Chinese. It’s mainly symbolic.”