The Evolving Role of Asia in Global Finance: Volume 9


Table of contents

(26 chapters)

This series is aimed at economists and financial economists worldwide and will provide an in-depth look at current global topics. Each volume in the series will focus on specialized topics for greater understanding of the chosen subject and provide a detailed discussion of emerging issues. The target audiences are professional researchers, graduate students, and policy makers. It will offer cutting-edge views on new horizons and deepen the understanding in these emerging topics.

The process of Asia's rise to a position of eminence in global finance has accelerated in the wake of the international financial crisis, posing new opportunities and challenges to both the Asian economies and the global financial and trade systems. This volume represents a significant new endeavor to explore and understand the dynamics created by this process of transition. Specifically, it addresses the following four contemporary themes of the evolving role of Asia in global finance: (a) real and financial interactions among economies and across markets, both within Asia and beyond; (b) regional monetary cooperation in Asia; (c) the decoupling debate over Asia's evolving economic and financial ties with major industrial economies; and (d) the changing roles of domestic finance and capital flows in the developing Asian economies. It sheds light on various dimensions of Asia's economy and finance, ranging from business cycles, exchange rate movements, regional policy coordination, domestic financial development, capital flows, and financial market behavior. These analyses are pooled in a book that is a must read for market participants, policymakers, and academics alike.

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Asia's economic integration into the global system has many dimensions. It is part of the broader globalization process that has taken place over the past two decades and involves dynamics of convergence, integration, and interactions of both real and financial activities. Section 1 examines some of the recent trends in the real and financial interactions between Asia and the rest of the world and among different markets within Asia. It contains four chapters on this theme, addressing the issues of macroeconomic similarities and differences, interactions among Asian stock markets and between them and the US equity market, as well as spillovers across various types of financial markets in the region in response to shocks.

Can standard business cycle methodology be applied to China? In this chapter, we address this question by examining the macroeconomic time series and identifying dimensions in which China differs from economies (such as Canada and the United States) that are typically the subject of business cycle research. We show that naively applying the standard business cycle tools to China is no more ridiculous than applying it to Canada, although the dimensions along which the model struggles is different. For China, the model cannot account for the low level of consumption (or high saving) as a proportion of income observed in the data. An examination of provincial level consumption data suggests that the absence of channels for intranational consumption risk sharing may be an important reason why the business cycle model has trouble accounting for Chinese consumption and saving behavior.

This chapter sheds new light on the linkages between stock market fluctuations and business cycles in Asia. It shows that at cyclical frequencies stock markets lead business cycles by six months on average. China, Korea, and Taiwan constitute exceptions, as their real and stock market cycles are contemporaneously synchronized. The low level of maturity of these markets offers a potential explanation of this outcome. Furthermore, we find that the linkage also holds during phases of cyclical upswing and downturn, with the exception of China, where the financial market lags behind industrial production during expansions. Finally, for most of the countries (except Thailand and Malaysia), the linkage is also robust to the presence of financial crises.

We investigate whether or not the effects of the subprime financial crisis on 12 Asian economies are similar to those of the Asian financial crisis by examining volatility spillovers and time-varying correlation between the US and Asian stock markets. After pretesting volatility causality and constancy of correlation, we estimate an appropriate smooth-transition correlation VAR-GARCH model for each Asian stock market. First, the empirical evidence indicates stark differences in stock market linkages between the two crises. The volatility causality comes from the crises-originating country. Volatility in Asian stock markets Granger-caused volatility in the US market during the Asian crisis, whereas volatility in the US stock market Granger-caused volatility in Asian stock markets during the subprime crisis. Second, decreased correlations during the period of financial turmoil were observed, especially during the Asian financial crisis. Third, the estimated points of transition in the correlation are indicative of market participants’ awareness of the ensuing stock market crashes in July 1997 and in September 2008.

This chapter analyses the impact of the global credit crisis on the money market and discusses its potential implications. The turbulence in money markets has spilled over to foreign exchange (FX)-swap markets amid a reappraisal of counterparty risks during the recent financial turmoil. We examine the situations of six currencies: the euro, the British pound, the Australian dollar, the Japanese yen, the Hong Kong dollar, and the Singapore dollar. We find that (i) the risk premiums have indeed gone in tandem with the spreads of money market rates over their corresponding overnight index swaps across the economies, a popular measure of potential banking insolvency; and (ii) the risk premiums bear a negative relationship with the strength of the spot rates of the respective currencies, which is consistent with the increased pressure in the money and swap markets.

The renminbi (RMB) has evolved in four phases since its mid-2005 unpegging from the US dollar. After a year's transition, the RMB's effective exchange rate traded for two years within narrow bands around an appreciating trend. That is, the RMB behaved as if it were managed to strengthen gradually against trading partners’ currencies. This experiment was interrupted in mid-2008 and the RMB stabilized against a strong dollar amidst the global financial crisis. If Chinese policy were to return to effective currency stability and other East Asian countries were to pursue similar policies, regional currency stability would be enhanced. That would create more favorable conditions for an evolution towards monetary cooperation.

This chapter examines exchange rate options for East Asian countries, taking into account their real economic linkages as well as their international financial relations. Particular consideration is given to possible exchange rate cooperation within the region. For this purpose, the literature on the optimal peg is reconsidered and subsequently extended to include a country's international financial asset and liability situation. That is, instead of focusing solely on nominal or real effective exchange rates, the chapter proposes a blend of “real” and “financial” exchange rates for analyzing “optimal” exchange rate policy.

We investigate fluctuations in the nominal effective exchange rates (NEERs) of East Asian currencies and the Asian monetary unit (AMU), which is computed as a weighted average of East Asian currencies during the global financial crisis. We find that NEERs were more stable for countries that continued to follow a currency basket system during the global financial crisis.

Furthermore, we investigate the relationships among NEERs, AMU, and AMU deviation indicators, which indicate the extent of the deviation in the exchange rate of each East Asian currency from a benchmark rate given in terms of the AMU. By comparing NEERs with a combination of AMU and AMU deviation indicators, we find that there is a strong relationship between them, both before and after the global financial crisis. These results indicate that a coordinated exchange rate policy aimed at stabilizing the AMU deviation indicators will be effective in stabilizing the NEERs of East Asian currencies. In this respect, the AMU deviation indicators, which indicate intraregional exchange rates among East Asian currencies, play a crucial role.

Because NEER trade weights are widely similar among East Asian currencies, a policy aimed at stabilizing a home currency against its NEER may lead to a coordinated exchange rate policy without a common consensus among East Asian countries. In the future, however, coordinated monetary policies should be considered along with coordinated exchange rate policies.

The aim of this chapter is to provide equilibrium exchange rates values for a large set of currencies and to study the adjustment process of observed exchange rates toward these levels by paying special attention to emerging Asian countries. Relying on panel smooth transition regression models, we show that real exchange rate dynamics in the long run are nonlinear for emerging Asian countries, and linear for the G7 currencies. Especially, there exists an asymmetric behavior of the real exchange rate when facing an over- or undervaluation, the adjustment speed being higher in the case of undervaluation in Asia. Although this result may be explained by the international pressure to limit undervaluation, the undervaluation may still persist over time, as has been observed since the beginning of 1990s.

This chapter argues that there are a number of different versions of decoupling hypotheses and that rapid swings in their popularity are due largely to herding in popular mental models and shifts in short-run correlations. It is important to not put too much emphasis on such changes of correlations since these can vary substantially depending on the patterns of shocks. There are substantial differences in the effects of contagion during the current crisis on growth rates of both advanced and emerging economies, including Brazil, Russia, India, and China (the BRICs). Our estimates suggest that while countries like China and India have been able to maintain high growth rates, their short falls from trends have not been greatly smaller than for the United States itself. Thus, their decoupling has not been as great as many popular analyses have suggested.

Standard measures of business cycle comovement, based on correlation coefficients, are very sensitive to the phase of the business cycle, as well as to regional crises. Adjusting for these factors overturns the empirical result that Asia-Pacific economies are becoming decoupled from the United States over time. An alternative, intuitive, measure of business cycle comovement is proposed, based on the difference between output growth rates adjusted for its long-run average. The new measure suggests that Asia-Pacific economies are becoming more strongly coupled with the United States over time.

Due to the emergence of global production networks, trade statistics have became less accurate in describing the dependence of emerging Asia on external demand. This chapter analyses, using an update of the Asian International Input–Output (AIO) table, the interdependence of emerging Asian economies, the United States, the EU15, and Japan via trade and production linkages. According to the results, we do not find evidence of the decoupling of emerging Asia from the rest of the world. On the contrary, we find evidence on increasing trade integration, both globally and regionally. Nonetheless, our analysis indicates that emerging Asia's dependence on exports is only about one-third of its GDP, that is, well below the 50% exposure suggested by trade data. This finding can be explained by the high import content of exports in these economies, which is a result of the increasing segmentation of production across the region.

We consider whether there has been a gradual decoupling of the Australian business cycle from its trading partners in Europe and North America and a closer convergence toward its trading partners in Asia. We set up a dynamic latent factor model to estimate common dynamic components or factors for the real GDP growth rate of 19 countries. From variance decomposition over the 1991–2009 sample, we find that a global factor contributed the most in explaining Australian output growth variations, followed by a European factor, an Asian factor, and finally a North American factor. However, the correlation between Australian output growth movements and the Asian business cycle factor evolved from negative and small to positive and large after 2002. The European and North American factors were negatively correlated with Australian output growth for most of the sample period before turning positive in the global financial crisis of 2007–2008. This evidence supports the hypothesis that the Australian economy has decoupled to some extent from Europe, was not much coupled with North America except insofar as the United States drove the global factor, and has increasingly become positively coupled with Asia.

In this chapter we study internal and external, formal and informal, financing sources of Chinese firms during the period 1997–2006, by analyzing balance sheet data from the Chinese Industrial Surveys of Medium-sized and Large Firms for 2000–2006 and survey data from the Large-Scale Survey of Private Enterprises in China conducted in 1997, 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006.

The following stylized facts emerge from our analysis: (1) State-owned firms continue to enjoy more generous external finances than other types of Chinese firms. (2) Chinese private firms have resorted to various ways of overcoming financial constraints, including reliance on the increasingly more mature informal financial markets, cost savings through lower inventory and other working capital requirements, and greater reliance on retained earnings. (3) Substantial variations exist in financial access among private firms, with small private firms facing more financial constraints whereas more established firms having financial access more equal to their SOE counterparts. (4) Although not as accessible as for SOEs, the Chinese formal financial sector does provide Chinese private firms with substantial financial resources, especially for their short-term needs during daily operations. (5) The most pressing financial constraint facing Chinese private firms is their limited ability to secure long-term funds to invest for growth, and resolving this issue should be one of the top goals of financial reforms in China.

Large foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow is one of the most important features of China's economic reform and opening up to the outside world. Over the past 30 years, China has attracted over US$940 billion FDI inflows, making it the largest FDI recipient among the all developing countries. This chapter argues that FDI inflows into China have mostly come from developing economies, concentrated in China's east and southeast coastal regions, and biased toward the manufacturing sector. The large FDI inflows have greatly contributed to China's economic development. FDI has been playing an increasingly important role in China's economy in terms of capital formation, employment creation, export promotion, and integrating with the world economy. The global financial and economic crisis has had negative impact on FDI inflows into China. However, as compared to the large decline in FDI globally, FDI inflows into China have been resilient. China will continue to be one of the most attractive destinations for FDI in the future.

We study the empirical determinants of the Chinese renminbi (RMB) covered interest differential. The canonical macroeconomic variables including capital flight and the factors that affect country risk, and a few China-specific regulatory and institutional factors are considered. It is found that the effects of these canonical macroeconomic variables on the RMB covered interest differential are largely consistent with those reported in the literature. Further, the covered interest differential was affected by China's general capital control policy and its exchange rate reform program, but not its political risk index. The effects of these explanatory variables on the covered interest differential appear to work mainly via the forward premium rather than the interest rate differential component. The results are largely the same across the onshore and offshore RMB forward rates that cover different sample periods.

This chapter explores Hong Kong's future as a major public securities market. It concludes that Hong Kong has the potential to become one of the world's major – if not the number one – public securities market in the coming decades. However, there are four major factors that will affect how much this potential is realized: (1) How Hong Kong's market is treated by the Central Government in Beijing vis-a-vis its competitors in Shanghai and Shenzhen. If Hong Kong is allowed full access to the Chinese saver/investor and Chinese firms are allowed the choice of listing in Hong Kong, then Hong Kong will outcompete its Shanghai and Shenzhen rivals regardless of whether Shanghai and Shenzhen are opened for listings by foreign companies and to foreign investors. Hong Kong will thrive in an environment of no capital constraints on the renminbi. Conversely, a retention of the renminbi capital controls combined with free access of foreign firms to list on Shanghai or Shenzhen and/or restrictions on Chinese firms listing in Hong Kong would be very harmful to Hong Kong. (2) How skillful and aggressive Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. are in making Hong Kong into a global competitor as a securities market. Hong Kong's principal competitors on a global basis are New York and London and the new electronic exchanges that have sprung up in Western countries. (3) The full force of new technologies is not inhibited in Hong Kong to protect a monopoly position of the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. (4) Hong Kong maintains its stable relationship with the US dollar, no capital controls are introduced in Hong Kong, and that Beijing continues to respect Hong Kong's information freedom as specified in the Basic Law.

Bertrand Candelon is a professor in International Monetary Economics. He received a PhD from Universite Catholique de Louvain. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, he joined University Maastricht, School of Business and Economics in 2001. He has written extensive works in the area of international finance, in particular on contagion and on the analysis of financial market co-movements. He is one of the founders of the Methods in International Finance Network.

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Pages 415-418
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Frontiers of Economics and Globalization
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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