Obama Meets With Leaders of China and Japan

The leaders of the U.S., China and Japan are expected to discuss currency and trade issues at the United Nations.
Author:
Publish date:

President Obama is scheduled to meet Chinese Premier Wen Thursday on the sidelines of the United Nations meeting. Reports also suggest a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Kan may take place.

Even though the meetings will be separate, the heads of state of the three largest economies in the world will be meeting.

There is much focus on the yuan and some have suggested that Bank of Japan intervention last week was aimed just as much at the yuan-yen rate as the dollar-yen rate. China is Japan's largest export market.

The intervention appeared to be a little less than the amount of Chinese purchases of Japanese bonds this year.

Before the week is up, the U.S. House and Ways Committee is expected to vote on the Chinese trade bill and it could go to the entire House next week. For the bill to become a law, it needs to have the approval of the Senate and Obama would have to sign off.

The Obama administration has been warning Congress against passing legislation that is illegal under the WTO agreements. There is a subtle threat that he would veto such a bill.

Chinese Premier Wen has not come alone. The delegation he is heading up is going on a shopping spree in the U.S. and business deals of several billion dollars are expected to be announced in the coming days.

This is part of China's modus operandi. It is also not surprising that pace of yuan gains has accelerated over the past couple of weeks. Premier Wen has likely been briefed that the U.S. feels a bit betrayed by the lack of yuan movement after the June announcement that the yuan would be more flexible.

Earlier this week Chinese officials had essentially told the U.S. not to get involved with the regional territorial disputes.

This is a wedge issue in emerging Asia as China has territorial disputes with several countries and the Japanese dispute is simply the highest profile now.

Several other ASEAN countries, including Indonesia for example, have rejected China's stance and appear to be embracing the US as a counter-weight to the PRC. This dovetails nicely with the effort by the Obama Administration to re-engage ASEAN countries.

The U.S. seeks Chinese cooperation on a range of issues. Currency and trade may be the key economic issues, but there are a number of security issues, like North Korea and Iran that may be easier to address if the two largest economies in the world cooperated.

The market is testing the BOJ's resolve by taking the dollar to its lowest level since last week's intervention. It is not nearly 2 big figures off the post-intervention high. Japanese markets are closed tomorrow and although passive intervention (leaving some stop orders) is possible, it seems unlikely.

Moreover, the price action in the foreign exchange market suggests this is a dollar move not a yen move, further reducing the odds of a successful operation.

Marc Chandler has been covering the global capital markets in one fashion or another for nearly 20 years, working at economic consulting firms and global investment banks. Currently, he is the chief foreign exchange strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman. Recently, Chandler was the chief currency strategist for HSBC Bank USA. He is a prolific writer and speaker and appears regularly on CNBC. In addition to being quoted in the financial press, Chandler is often a guest writer for the Financial Times. He also teaches at New York University, where he is an associate professor in the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. While Chandler cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he appreciates your feedback;

click here

to send him an email.