AcademicsWorking Papers

Changing anchor of the renminbi: A Bayesian learning approach to the decade-long transition
Chen Zhang, Ying Fang, Linlin Niu
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China’s exchange rate reform, initiated in 2005, had the goal of switching from a fixed U.S. dollar (USD) peg to a floating mechanism with reference to a trade-weighted currency basket. Over a decade of gradual transition, the renminbi (RMB) has gained importance in the international monetary system and has shown higher flexibility in its dollar value. However, previous studies have demonstrated the inertia of the RMB in maintaining a de facto dollar peg, with little evidence of the up-to-date effectiveness of the official currency basket. We present a Bayesian time-varying coefficient regression on the currency peg or basket weight suitable for studying transition process. We show that the “8.11” reform in 2015 triggered an eventual anchor switching, driving down the dollar weight from 1 to around 0.3. Since 2016, the weight of the official basket has been double that of the USD. SVAR and TVP-VAR analysis, controlling for endogeneity, provide consistent evidence of this regime change, which has important implications for China and the global economy.
JEL-Codes: F31, F41, C11
Keywords: Renminbi, exchange rate regime, dollar peg, currency basket

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