Monday, August 24 is already being heralded by Beijing media as China’s black Monday. The leading Chinese equity index, the Shanghai Composite, fell by a massive 8.5 percent. This loss made a mockery of all the previous government measures that supposedly would shore up the Chinese stock market. The equities debacle in China was echoed by the fall in stock prices throughout other major Asian markets.
In reaction to the dismal economic and equity news out of China, European bourses opened the trading session with their own set of staggering losses. Is the global stock market bubble, puffed up by central banks since the onset of the global economic and financial crisis in 2008 independent of poor economic fundamentals, about to pop? The signs are looking ominous.
Wall Street has incurred 2-days of brutal losses. Friday’s drop of more than 530 points follows Thursdays’ decline by more than 300 points on the Dow Jones index. The NYSE collapse parallels that of major bourses across the world.
The sudden crash in stock prices will undoubtedly send the various plunge protection teams of the world’s major central banks into action, seeking to reverse the sharp losses. In spite of what the central bankers do, they cannot much longer hide the fact that the world barely recovered from the global economic crisis that emerged in 2008, and the likelihood of a return to the Great Recession has grown exponentially, with the accumulation of bad economic news, especially from China.
Yesterday’s devaluation of 1.9 percent in the value of the Yuan was followed today by another cut of one percent by China’s central bank in the national currency’s competitive value. With July’s decline of 8 percent in China’s exports, following in the wake of the collapse in equity values on the Chinese stock markets, Beijing is clearly worried.
A devaluation of three-percent in the value of nation’s currency, particularly when the fall in value is not the result of market forces but of deliberative monetary policy, is a very big deal in global finance. A nation does not willingly sabotage and debase its own currency when its economy is enjoying robust growth. Currency devaluations are specific acts of monetary policy enacted by the sovereign when its economy is in jeopardy. Thus, despite the official statistics emanating from Beijing on GDP growth and other rosy prognostications, the Chinese economy is facing gathering headwinds. With a low rate of domestic consumption as a proportion of its total GDP, Beijing has undertaken a radical monetary devaluation in an act of desperation, hoping to kickstart exports by cheapening its currency.
Now the remaining major economies must also worry, as the People’s Republic of China has declared an all-out currency war, with the major victim–and target–being the American economy. And the repercussions are not only economic; Donald Trump is poised to take full advantage of China’s currency manipulation as he maintains his frontrunner status in the race for the Republican Party’s nomination for President of the United States. Trump has already gotten ahead of his GOP competition by pontificating on the damage to America’s economy by allowing China’s currency devaluation to be spared any meaningful policy response by Washington, ultimately costing American workers their jobs.
It may be that the monetary policy measure executed by the People’s Bank of China will have its greatest impact and consequences on domestic American politics, with long-term results that may be the opposite of what Beijing desires.
The People’s Bank of China, Beijing’s central bank, imposed a surprise devaluation of 1.9 percent in the value of the nation’s currency, the Yuan or Renminbi. This sudden move by the economic central planners in the People’s Republic of China was in response to a cascade of worrying trends confronting the leadership of the world’s second largest economy.
A country devalues its currency in response to bad economic trends, and never for positive reasons. The negative news emerging from China’s manufacturing sector, in combination with the collapse in the Chinese stock market, has led to the decision to devalue the Yuan, hoping that this policy move will boost Chinese exports. The problem is that this move hurts everyone else, especially the United States. What the financial commentator James Rickards described in his book as “Currency Wars” just got a massive dose of escalation from Beijing, which will likely trigger counter-moves by other major economies that will ultimately damage the global economy as a whole.