Article: Analysis: A currency manipulator tag for Switzerland may not deter FX approach

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Analysis: A currency manipulator tag for Switzerland may not deter FX approach

Saikat Chatterjee, John Revill and David Lawder, 16 December 2020

LONDON/ZURICH/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The threat of being named a currency manipulator by the U.S. Treasury may be an embarrassment for Switzerland, but even if the country does get the tag, it likely will have little effect on the Swiss National Bank’s monetary policy.

Switzerland is expected to meet all three criteria for such designation in the long-overdue U.S. Treasury report on the foreign currency practices of major trading partners. The Treasury has some discretion on whether to issue such a label, and the coronavirus pandemic, which has thrown trade and capital flows into chaos this year, could be a factor.

There would be no automatic punishment with a label, though U.S. law requires Washington to demand negotiations with designated countries.

Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan this year have also been in violation https://www.cfr.org/article/tracking-currency-manipulation of the Treasury’s three manipulation criteria: a $20 billion-plus bilateral trade surplus with the United States, foreign currency intervention exceeding 2% of GDP and a global current account surplus exceeding 2% of GDP.

Currency experts expect Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to issue the report within days, just over a month before he leaves office.

“The subtle implication of being put on this list is that you eventually could come under sanctions, and that puts pressure on these countries not to weaken their currencies so much, or to allow strengthening,” said Win Thin, global head of Currency Strategy at BBH.

But he said that in Switzerland’s case, as the exchange rate is its main tool for fighting deflation, “they may say, ‘Well, tough’”.

The Swiss central bank is firmly under the Treasury’s focus after spending 90 billion Swiss francs ($101.50 billion) on foreign currency intervention in the first half of 2020 amid pandemic-driven safe-haven inflows.

The SNB has long argued it is not trying to weaken the franc to gain a trade advantage. Instead, it aims only to stem the appreciation of its currency to head off the threat of deflation, which runs contrary to its goal of price stability.

“Switzerland has always been treated as a special case when it comes to exchange rate policy and even the U.S. Treasury has conceded in the past that Switzerland’s economic situation is “distinctive” and that its monetary policy options are limited by its small stock of domestic assets,” said David Oxley, a senior European economist at Capital Economics.

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Article: U.S. Treasury labels Switzerland, Vietnam as currency manipulators

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U.S. Treasury labels Switzerland, Vietnam as currency manipulators

Reuters Staff, 16 December 2020

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Treasury labeled Switzerland and Vietnam as currency manipulators on Wednesday and added three new names to a watch list of countries it suspects of taking measures to devalue their currencies against the dollar.

In what may be one of the final broadsides to international trading partners delivered by the departing administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, the Treasury said that through June 2020 both Switzerland and Vietnam had intervened in currency markets to prevent effective balance of payments adjustments.

Furthermore, in its semi-annual currency manipulation report, the Treasury said Vietnam had acted to gain “unfair competitive advantage in international trade as well.” Continue reading “Article: U.S. Treasury labels Switzerland, Vietnam as currency manipulators”

Article: Currency wars and the emerging-market countries

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Currency wars and the emerging-market countries

Richard Portes, 04 November 2010

The headlines shout “currency wars”. The US believes China engages in “currency manipulation”. The authorities hesitate to declare this to the US Congress, and the Secretary of the Treasury says “competitive non-appreciation” instead. China accuses the US of excessively loose monetary policy, flooding the world with liquidity. There is some truth in both charges, but some exaggeration.

This is one of the key issues facing the G20. Exchange-rate pressures, global imbalances and rebalancing, spillovers and the desirability of policy coordination – these are at the centre of the economic interdependence between the developed and emerging market countries. All this is in the context of weak US and European recoveries from the Great Recession, the risk of deflation, and the likelihood of more quantitative easing (QE) by major central banks. Domestic issues and inability to get direct action on exchange rates has led the US to propose internationally agreed targets for current-account imbalances. The wheel goes round – these proposals bear some resemblance to those of Keynes at Bretton Woods, which the US then opposed.

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