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TheStreet Open House

A Chinese Gold Standard?

Stocks in this article: GLD

China has also been trying to beef up the yuan to make it a more viable global currency.

The People's Bank of China's Website said it is trying to allow banks and businesses in countries like Russia and the U.S. to be able to make direct investments in the yuan, which essentially brings the once-isolated currency onto the world stage. The Website says this move "better support s Chinese enterprises to go abroad and facilitate trades and investments."

The country announced Thursday that yuan Forex options will be available in China by April, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The option to exchange the yuan into another currency and vice versa will help traders and business hedge their bets as the yuan appreciates not to mention make it a more trade-able asset.

There are now retail bank branches in the U.S. where you can trade in your dollars for yuan. The country is also negotiating currency swap agreements with trading partners where the U.S. dollar is taken out of the transaction and goods are traded in yuan.

Despite grumblings over letting its currency appreciate versus the dollar, from 2005 to 2008 before the financial crisis hit, the yuan rose 30%.

China is also a country that plans long term. Once the largest holder of U.S. debt, China has stopped loaning money as aggressively. According to the U.S. Treasury department's Website, in November 2010, the country lent the U.S. $895.6 billion, which was down 3.6% from the same period a year earlier.

"China has shortened all their maturities to less than 5 years and now they are not as strong in the auctions," argues Chuck Butler, president of EverBank, who believes China wants the yuan as the world's reserve currency. Speculation is bubbling that the country is shying away from the dollar to make more room for another asset.

Some experts say that asset could be gold.

"The world needs to get off the dollar standard," says Peter Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Capital. "If China were to back its currency by gold, its currency could be the world's reserve currency."

Yan Xiaomei, deputy director at the People's Bank of China, says "if China holds more gold and silver, it would make RMB more confident in people."

Xiaomei believes that China would buy more gold and silver at the "proper time, but not as a critical policy, the quantity would also be not too big."

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