LARRY FINK: China is a 'currency manipulator, but the opposite'

BlackRock Chairman and CEO Larry Fink weighed in on whether he thinks China is a currency manipulator in an interview with CNBC on Thursday.

“They are a currency manipulator, but the opposite. They have spent almost $US1 trillion keeping the currency where it is,” he said.

“And by all measures, when you look relative to other currencies, China’s currency is actually pretty high. And they have been keeping it high,” he continued. “If you look at exactly their behaviours, they are listening to President Trump, they’re trying to keep their currency strong.”

US President Donald Trump previously pledged to label China a currency manipulator on his first day in office, although he has not yet done so.

There are three criteria that must be met for a country to be labelled a currency manipulator by the Treasury Department:

  1. The country must have a significant bilateral trade surplus with the US.
  2. The country has a “material” currency account surplus.
  3. The country is engaged in persistent one-sided intervention in the foreign exchange market.

In their semi-annual April 2016 report on the currency practices of the major trading partners of the US, the Treasury included a “Monitoring List” of countries that “merit attention based on an analysis of the three criteria.” China was among those added to the list.

Once a country is added to the list, it is kept on there for at least two consecutive reports.

The April report said that China met two out of the three criteria — a large bilateral trade surplus and a current account surplus above 3%. But by October, it met only one of the three criteria — the large bilateral trade surplus.

The last time the US designated China a currency manipulator was from 1992 to 1994.

The next report is due out April 14. Experts have argued it is unlikely that Trump will formally declare China a currency manipulator after his upcoming meeting with President Xi Jinping in Florida, given the Treasury requirements.

Notably, BlackRock’s Fink also weighed in on the upcoming meeting between the world leaders:

“I personally believe that the Chinese government is going to be good listeners and see what our new administration is — what their intentions are related to the relationship. I actually am optimistic about this, that this is going on to be a good meeting. Both sides, actually, need some form of success. I think they’re going to find ways to improve the relationship. I think obviously North Korea will be a major component of the conversations.”

Xi and Trump will spend about 24 hours together at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Thursday in their first meeting.

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