China has given its clearest warning to date that emergency monetary stimulus by Western governments risks setting off worldwide inflation and undermining global bond markets.
By Ambrose Evans-PritchardLast Updated: 1:13PM BST 07 May 2009
Comments"A policy mistake made by some major central bank may bring inflation risks to the whole world," said the People's Central Bank in its quarterly report.
"As more and more economies are adopting unconventional monetary policies, such as quantitative easing (QE), major currencies' devaluation risks may rise," it said. The bank fears a "big consolidation" in the bond markets, clearly anxious that interest yields will surge as western states try to exit their QE experiment.
Simon Derrick, currency chief at the Bank of New York Mellon, said the report is the latest sign that China is losing patience with the US and aims to diversify part its $1.95 trillion (£1.3 trillion) foreign reserves away from US Treasuries and other dollar securities.
"There is a significant shift taking place in China. They are concerned about the stability of the global financial system so they are not going to sell US bonds they already have. But they are still accumulating $40bn of fresh reserves each month, and they are going to be much more careful where they invest it," he said.
Hans Redeker, head of currencies at BNP Paribas, said China is switching into hard assets. "They want to buy production rights to raw materials and gain access to resources such as oil, water, and metals. They know they can't keep buying bonds," he said
Premier Wen Jiabao left no doubt at the Communist Party summit in March that China is irked by Washington's response to the credit crunch, suspecting that the US is engaging in a stealth default on its debt by driving down the dollar. "We have lent a massive amount of capital to the United States, and of course we are concerned about the security of our assets. To speak truthfully, I do indeed have some worries," he said.
Days later, the central bank chief wrote a paper suggesting a world currency based on Special Drawing Rights issued by the International Monetary Fund.
Some economists say China is suffering from "cognitive dissonance" by anguishing so much over its reserves, accumulated as a result of its own policy of holding down the yuan to promote exports. Quantitative easing by the US Federal Reserve and fellow central banks may have saved China as well, since the country's growth strategy is built on selling goods to the West.
China's fears of imported inflation may reflect its concerns about over-heating. The M2 money supply rose 25pc in March on a year earlier, and there has been explosive credit growth since the government relaxed loan restraints. There are concerns that the stimulus is leaking into a new asset bubble rather than promoting job growth. The Shanghai bourse is up over 50pc since November