Simon Black – As the saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” (… to which George W. Bush famously added after flubbing the aphorism on live TV, “can’t fool me again!”)
For months, despite every shred of data pointing to a weaker economy, China’s currency has been strengthening.
This was really counterintuitive. When an economy is weak, its currency tends to suffer.
But that didn’t happen in China.
Even when China’s stock market suffered one of the biggest crashes in history a few weeks ago, the currency barely moved.
None of this made any sense.
Just look at Greece– problems in that single nation, one of the smallest economies in Europe, dragged down the currency used by 18 other nations in Europe to its lowest level in more than a decade.
But when problems broke in China, the renminbi actually got stronger. And party bosses insisted that they would not devalue their currency.
Fool me once.
Yesterday they showed the world what their promises really mean: nothing. And in a surprise announcement, they devalued the renminbi by roughly 2%.
2% might not sound like very much. But in currency markets, especially for a major one like China’s, 2% is a huge move.
Curiously, in the very same announcement, Chinese officials stated that they would not devalue the currency again, and that Tuesday’s move was a one-time thing.
Fool me twice.
Less than 24-hours later they did it again — a second devaluation that saw the renminbi tumble to as low as 6.57 per US dollar, a 6% decline in roughly 36 hours.