El rompecabezas de la moneda en China

PALO ALTO – El Banco Popular de China (BPC), al parecer, no puede salir ganar en ninguna situación. A finales de febrero, la apreciación gradual del renminbi se vio interrumpida por una depreciación del 1% (a $1: ¥ 6.12). Aunque insignificante en términos de comercio en general, especialmente en comparación con la volatilidad de los regímenes de tipo de cambio flotante, el debilitamiento inesperado del renminbi provocó un furor mundial.

El alboroto no fue sorprendente. Después de todo, China ha estado bajo la presión constante de los gobiernos extranjeros para que revalúe su moneda, en la creencia errónea de que una moneda más fuerte reduciría el gran superávit comercial de China. Y, desde julio de 2008, cuando la tasa de cambio era de $1:¥ 8.28 (y se la había mantenido constante durante diez años), el BPC cumplió, de mayor o menor manera, con apreciaciones que se aproximaban al 3% anual hasta el año 2012.

Sin embargo, la protesta internacional no dejó que se vislumbre una característica no intencional, pero quizás más preocupante, de la política cambiaria de China: la tendencia que la apreciación esporádica del renminbi (incluso los pequeños movimientos) tiene en cuanto a desencadenar flujos especulativos de dinero “caliente”. Ya que las tasas de interés a corto plazo en los Estados Unidos se encuentran cerca de cero, y la tasa de interés interbancaria “natural” en China, que es un país que crece con más rapidez, se encuentra cerca del 4%; por ejemplo, una apreciación esperada del 3%, se traduce en un diferencial “efectivo” en los tipos de interés del 7%. Este es un diferencial atractivo para los especuladores de divisas que piden prestado en dólares y eluden los controles de capital de China para comprar activos en renminbi.

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