Chinese Yuan: "Manipulated" Does NOT Mean "Unpredictable"
"...markets are bigger than governments."
by Vadim Pokhlebkin
Updated: December 05, 2016
This year's U.S. presidential election brought into focus one market you don't hear about often: the Chinese yuan, or renminbi.
"Donald Trump has been telling us all for a long time now that China is a currency manipulator. It's part of his plan for his first 100 days in office to get on with making sure that China is legally declared to be such a currency manipulator and thus start the process of doing something about it.
"The problem with this is that China really is a currency manipulator. But they're manipulating the value of the yuan up, not down. Thus returning it to the correct free market value isn't going to have the desired effect of closing America's trade deficit with China." (Forbes, Nov. 13.)
However things shake out with China under the new White House administration, let's look closer at the basic premise of this argument -- namely, that China's government manipulates the currency.
By definition, market manipulation means stopping the free-market forces from doing what they do best: setting a fair value of an asset that suits both the buyer and the seller. It also implies that the manipulated market is no longer predictable using trend indicators you would apply to other, freely-traded assets.
So, does this mean that the yuan has been unpredictable?
You be the judge.
Below, you see a chart of the yuan vs. U.S. dollar exchange rate going back to 2014.
The arrows on this chart show you the timing of 15 yuan forecasts subscribers saw over the past two years in our Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday Asian-Pacific Short Term Update, edited by Chris Carolan.
[Click chart to expand]
- March 18, 2014: "The dollar is rallying and the yuan falling as wave 5 appears complete. With prices breaking out now above the upper weekly Keltner channel for the dollar versus the yuan, we can state that a very large dollar rally is in its early stages."
- May 11, 2014: "The dollar rally this year versus the Chinese yuan is the largest against that currency since rates were allowed to partially float twenty years ago. The daily chart shows that the dollar has completed five waves up against the yuan. The daily Jurik RSX has now turned lower with a bearish divergence. We should expect some additional pullback in the dollar now versus the yuan. [It] will present an opportunity to become bullish on this cross rate on further weakness."
- December 9, 2014: "We showed the long-term Yuan charts a few times earlier this year after the dollar completed a long-term, five-wave decline. The subsequent dollar yuan rally managed to break above its upper weekly Keltner channel and then challenge the upper monthly channel. Then, the dollar began a months-long pullback against the yuan. We've been waiting for signs of the next wave higher in dollar yuan. That wave is beginning now."
- January 27, 2015: "A long term dollar rally versus the yuan fits Elliott Wave International's outlook for deflation. ...the dollar rally versus the yuan remains in its early and formative stages."
- July 30, 2015: "It's been some time since we checked in on the dollar yuan exchange rate. The rate is pegged by the Chinese government, though it is subject to market pressures. We've been patiently awaiting an upside breakout in the dollar against the yuan. Recent news reports have highlighted the increasing flight of capital from China. That capital flight causes upward pressure on the dollar yuan, which is the direction we've been expecting this market to take for some time. Reports are also tracking heavy Chinese selling of U.S. Treasuries in order to dampen the upward pressure on dollar yuan. For now, the peg holds tight, as shown in the weekly chart. Yet at some point, markets are bigger than governments. We expect dollar yuan to defeat those who are determined to peg it. ...when that time comes, it will be a third-of-a-third wave higher for the dollar against the yuan [targeting] trading area at 6.80."
- August 23, 2015: "China is holding the line again on the yuan, but their very small devaluation is lagging far behind the large moves in their neighbors' exchange rates. The offshore yuan continues to put pressure on the Chinese for further devaluations. That devaluation will come, but we may need to wait a while before it occurs."
- October 13, 2015: "The bigger picture in the yuan shows that the dollar decline since the sharp devaluation move is clearly corrective. To sum up all the evidence, we are closely monitoring these markets for an expected resumption of volatility across all financial markets."
- November 10, 2015: "The dollar is once again stronger versus the offshore yuan than the official, onshore, pegged trading. A higher dollar versus emerging market currencies will once again pressure China to devalue the yuan. We continue to expect the yuan to trade at 6.8 per dollar in coming months."
- December 15, 2015: "We're seeing the Chinese yuan's steady devaluation as the fixed onshore exchange rate continues to follow the offshore rate, where the dollar is moving higher. The 6.80 level of Minor wave 4's trading range as shown on the monthly chart is our minimum target for this move. The yuan's devaluation will keep the pressure on emerging market currencies in coming months. Each country believes the best way to fight deflation is to devalue their currency and export that devaluation to their neighbor. These pressures on all currencies to devalue will continue into 2016."
- January 12, 2016: "The yuan will move lower regardless of Chinese government actions. But this reversal today likely marks the wave (iii) top in the dollar, so we may expect a week or more of quieter yuan trading before the long-term dollar rally resumes."
- April 24, 2016: "The yuan seems poised for another round of devaluation as the dollar exchange rate moves higher in Minute wave v."
- May 10, 2016: "The dollar is moving higher again versus the yuan as Minute wave v gathers upside momentum. The dollar is trading at the largest premium over the yuan on the offshore market since February. Look for the dollar to continue towards our long-term price target at 6.80 yuan per dollar in coming weeks and months."
- June 19, 2016: "The dollar advance against the yuan continues. This Minute wave v rally is orderly so far."
- October 4, 2016: "We have a long-term minimum target of 6.83 for this advance, which is the level of the previous fourth wave, the end of the Minor 4 triangle in 2010, shown on the monthly chart. We first issued that price target over a year ago in 2015. This strong, long-term trend up in the dollar versus the yuan deserves our respect."
- November 8, 2016: "The Chinese yuan has reached our long-term price target of 6.80."
So, what should we make of this brief history?
It's best summarized by this quote from Chris Carolan's Asian-Pacific Short Term Update:
"The [dollar/yuan] rate is pegged by the Chinese government, though it is subject to market pressures.
"...markets are bigger than governments."
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