Friday, April 9, 2010

Currency deal could be near between China and United States

Word comes from New York that negotiators for China and the United States are closing in on an agreement to raise the value of China's currency, a point of contention between the two world economic giants. China's president, Hu Jintao, is scheduled to visit Washington this week, days after a surprise visit to China by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, according to the Cable News Network (CNN). The United States has been pressing China to allow its currency to float against other world currencies, at least temporarily, to help rebalance the value of trade between the two countries. Analysts say an increase in the value of China's currency, the yuan, will help cut a huge surplus in its balance of trade. "It basically seems like it's a done deal," Ashraf Laidi, chief market strategist for CMC Markets, told CNN. In addition to diplomatic friction, the undervalued yuan is hampering economic recovery in the United States, said Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland. "Unemployment would be falling rapidly and the U.S. economy recovering more rapidly but for the trade deficit with China and Beijing's currency policies." China has been keeping its currency undervalued by buying billions of dollars in U.S. currency and notes, CNN said. Most economists now think the yuan is undervalued by up to 40 percent, but raising its value precipitously could cause more problems than it would solve by overheating China's economy. In that scenario, a gradual increase would be more desirable, CNN said. "The movement from managed currency to freely floating currency is not easy to pull off," Mark Vitner, a senior economy with Wells Fargo Securities, told CNN. "If we have a boom and then a bust in China, that could lead to another global recession." In the short run, raising the value of China's currency will raise the price of Chinese goods sold in the United States while cutting the price of China's imports of natural resources like oil. Hu is expected in Washington next week for U.S. President Barack Obama's worldwide nuclear security summit.

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