Currency manipulation–to whose advantage?

Dan suggests “getting tough” on China for its currency manipulation that presumably harms American manufacturing:

When the Chinese currency—the yuan—is undervalued against the dollar, it makes Chinese goods cheaper when they enter the United States, thereby undercutting American-based competition.

It was U.S. manufacturers who sought to have China branded a manipulator and it’s their employees who have been suffering the brunt of the economic losses that come when domestic manufacturing loses market share to China.

The second paragraph is telling: it certainly may be true that some U.S. manufacturers and their employees have been suffering  because of Chinese competitors, but by no means have all U.S. manufacturers and employees, nor U.S. consumers, suffered as a result of trade with China, even if they have “manipulated” their currency. Some links by the clear-thinking Don Boudreaux at CafeHayek:

to oppose or to question trade because some people ‘lose’ from it is to oppose or to question competition.

Getting tough on China is a bad idea. China sells us cheap stuff. If they really are currency manipulators, I’m grateful to them. China is bad for some Americans–those who want to make the same stuff China does. I’d rather those Americans do something else rather than expect me to pay a premium to let them do whatever they want to do.

[I]f Americans are taxed into buying fewer imports from China, then China’s reliance on America’s market will not be “heightened”; it will shrink.  With Americans spending fewer dollars on Chinese goods, the Chinese will have fewer dollars to spend on American goods or to invest in America.

Does Sen. Brown believe that apps – many of which can be downloaded for free (!) – harm America’s economy?…If not, why does he imagine that America’s economy needs protection from Chinese actions that bestow the very same blessings on America’s economy as those bestowed by app developers – namely, a lowering of Americans’ costs of acquiring the services of manufactured goods?

If you keep your promise to impose countervailing duties on imports from China you will thereby break your promise to not raise taxes on the American people.  (Americans who buy imports from China are, after all, American people.)

This reality isn’t rendered irrelevant by the fact that Beijing’s actions harm certain American producers: all newly created benefits for American consumers harm certain American producers.”

If you wouldn’t object to China sending products to the United States for free, then on what basis would you object to currency ‘manipulation’ that allows you to purchase undervalued Chinese imports at a huge discount and great bargain?

He was speaking shortly after the U.S. Senate passed legislation to crack down on Chinese currency American-consumers’ practices that U.S. lawmakers legislation-makers blame for millions of lost jobs.

At U.S. News & World Report‘s ‘Debate Club’ today, Andy Roth here, and I here, each use our alloted 350 or so words to argue against Uncle Sam’s attempt to protect American producers from imports from China whose prices might be made lower by Beijing’s monetary policy.”

In contrast, the people unfairly burdened are exclusively Chinese citizens – both as consumers forced to pay higher prices at home, and as taxpayers forced to fund Beijing’s practice of purchasing U.S. dollars in order to depress the price of the yuan against the dollar. It is, in fact, obscenely unfair for Beijing to oblige the Chinese people to hand over chunks of their wealth to Americans, even the poorest of whom is far richer than is the typical man or woman in China.”



  • Richard Chonak

    Isn’t there still a problem here? Are you willing to let the ruthless Chinese government game the system in a way that restructures our economy to their advantage? That they are doing this at the expense of yuan-holders doesn’t matter: in the end, they gain power and we lose power.

    • Joe M

      Richard. In this arrangement, I believe that we gain power at their expense. Resources that would be spent on more expensive goods are free to be spent elsewhere.



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