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Policy Brief 10-8

New PPP-Based Estimates of Renminbi Undervaluation and Policy Implications

by Arvind Subramanian, Peterson Institute for International Economics

April 2010


New estimates by Arvind Subramanian for the undervaluation of the Chinese currency based on the purchasing power parity (PPP) approach find that the renminbi is undervalued by approximately 30 percent rather than the 12 percent widely reported. Subramanian applies new insights about the way PPP data are compiled, uses new data that have become available, and corrects existing estimates for the biases in the data in order to attain a more accurate estimation of China's currency undervaluation.

Corrective action must be taken not primarily to help China but to prevent its currency undervaluation from harming the rest of the world. The real victims of China's currency policies, argues Subramanian, are other emerging-market and developing countries because they compete more closely with China. It is crucial that the subject be broached delicately and with humility and that a multilateral approach be taken with China, most likely by going through the World Trade Organization.

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