China's currency, the renminbi (RMB), has taken the world by storm. The RMB is well on its way to becoming a significant international currency, one that is used widely in international trade and finance. This book documents the RMB's impressive rise, with China successfully adopting a unique playbook for promoting its currency.
China's growing economic might, expanding international influence, and the rise of its currency are all intricately connected. The book documents how China's government has tied these goals together, enabling faster progress towards each of them. But there are many pitfalls ahead, both for China's economy and its currency. The book shows how the government has so far navigated its way around domestic and international dangers, but enormous risks still lie ahead.
The International Monetary Fund has elevated the RMB to the status of an official reserve currency, a currency that foreign central banks use to keep their rainy day funds. If China plays its cards right, with reforms that put its economy and financial markets on the right track, the RMB is going to become an important reserve currency that could rival some of the traditional reserve currencies such as the euro and the Japanese yen. But this book argues that there are limits to the RMB's ascendance-the hype about its inevitable rise to global dominance is overblown.
The Chinese leadership's apparent commitment to financial sector and other market-oriented reforms-coupled with unambiguous repudiation of political, legal, and institutional reforms-sets the RMB on a clear course. It will attain the status of a reserve currency over time but has essentially given up its claim of being seen as a safe haven currency, one that investors turn to for safety. The RMB will erode but not seriously challenge the U.S. dollar's dominance in international finance.
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Eswar Prasad is the Tolani Senior Professor of Trade Policy at Cornell University. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, where he holds the New Century Chair in International Economics, and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He was previously chief of the Financial Studies Division in the International Monetary Fund’s Research Department and, before that, was the head of the IMF’s China Division.
Prasad has testified before various U.S. Congressional committees, including the Senate Finance Committee and House Committee on Financial Services. He was a member of the analytical team that drafted the 2008 report of the High-Level Committee on Financial Sector Reforms set up by the Government of India. He serves on an Advisory Committee to India’s Finance Minister and is the Lead Academic for the DFID-LSE International Growth Center’s India Growth Research Program. He is the creator of the Brookings-Financial Times index of world economic activity (TIGER: Tracking Indices for the Global Economic Recovery; www.ft.com/tiger). His op-ed articles have appeared in the Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, International Herald Tribune, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and numerous other newspapers.
Eswar Prasad’s previous book, Emerging Markets: Resilience and Growth Amid Global Turmoil (with M. Ayhan Kose; Brookings Institution Press), was published in December 2010. His extensive publication record includes articles in top academic journals as well as numerous collected volumes. He has co-authored and edited numerous books and monographs, including on financial regulation and on China and India. His research interests include the macroeconomics of financial globalization; financial regulation, monetary policy frameworks and exchange rate policies in emerging markets; and the Chinese and Indian economies.