As we’ve tried to make abundantly clear in the wake of China’s adoption of a new currency regime in August, Beijing’s attempt to strike some kind of illusory compromise between a free floating currency and a currency that’s completely controlled by the PBoC was doomed from the word go. “Whereas the daily fix was previously used to fix the spot rate, the PBoC now seemingly fixes the spot rate to determine the daily fix, [thus] the role of the market in determining the exchange rate has, if anything, been reduced in the short term,” BNP’s Mole Hau wrote last month, and as we said then, less of a role for the market means more of a role for the PBoC and that, in turn, means burning through FX reserves. 

Complicating the situation further is the fact that FX reserve drawdowns work at cross purposes with RRR cuts by sucking liquidity from the market meaning each intervention necessitates some manner of short-term liquidity injection (e.g. reverse repos, etc.) or else more RRR cuts.

Of course policy rate cuts and liquidity injections are seen by the market for what they are: attempts to ease. And unfortunately for China, that’s true whether or not the net effect of the push and pull on money markets is easing or not, and that perception on the part of the market leads to downward pressure on the yuan at which point the entire thing starts over again in a nightmarish, FX reserve-depleting circle.

Add in stepped up efforts to close the gap between the onshore and offshore spot and you have yourself a rather untenable situation and as with all things untenable, there will, sooner or later, be an endgame. 

Against this backdrop, we present Daiwa’s list of China’s three possible endgame scenarios (via Bloomberg): 

China’s balance sheet under serious contractionary pressure as money leaves and Fed decision looms, resulting in three endgame scenarios, Daiwa analysts Kevin Lai and Junjie Tang write in note dated Sept. 9.

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