People’s Bank of China Freaks Out, Devalues Yuan by Record Amount, Vows to “Severely Punish” Capital Flight

Tuesday, August 11, 2015
By Paul Martin

by Wolf Richter
August 11, 2015

Everything has started to go wrong in the Chinese economy despite its mind-bending growth rate of 7%. Exports plunged and imports too. Sales in the world’s largest auto market suddenly are shrinking just when overcapacity is ballooning. The property market is quaking. Electricity consumption, producer prices, and other indicators are deteriorating. Capital is fleeing. The hard landing is getting rougher by the day. But Tuesday morning, the People’s Bank of China pulled the ripcord.

In a big way.

It lowered the yuan’s daily reference rate by a record 1.9%. The yuan plunged instantly, and after a brief bounce, continued to plunge. Now, as I’m writing this, it is trading in Shanghai at 6.322 to the dollar, down 1.8% from before the announcement. A record one-day drop.

The PBOC had kept the yuan stable against the dollar. As the dollar has risen against other major currencies, the yuan followed in lockstep. Over the past week, the Yuan’s closing levels in Shanghai were limited to vacillating between 6.2096 and 6.2097 against the dollar. Over the past month, daily moves were limited to a maximum 0.01%. The PBOC controls its currency with an iron fist.

Hence the shock to the currency war system.

The Nikkei, beneficiary of the most aggressive currency warrior out there, had been up, nearly kissing the magic 21,000 at the open for the first time in a generation, but plunged 200 points in one fell swoop when the news hit. Then the Bank of Japan jumped in with its endless supply of freshly printed yen, furiously buying Japanese ETF to stem the loss. The lunch break put a stop to all this. Then the Nikkei plunged again. Maybe the folks at the BOJ were late getting back to their trading stations. But now they’re back at work, mopping up ETFs.

The Rest…HERE

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