Who are the biggest currency manipulators?

Joseph Gagnon of the Peterson Institute has a new paper out calculating what countries are manipulating their currencies downward the most by hoarding reserves of foreign currencies. Here they are in order:

Perhaps the most surprising thing here is that China does not, relatively, appear to be doing that much. Countries that come in for little or no criticism for their manipulation, like Switzerland or Malaysia, have roughly equivalent holdings, and some countries, especially Middle Eastern oil economies such as Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Libya and Asian city-states like Singapore and Hong Kong, have truly huge holdings.

But of course, the reason people fret about China is not because its holdings are so big relative to its economy but because, given the size of the Chinese economy, that means the holdings are huge:

Still, what the GDP-relative figures should tell us is that China's behavior, while of a much larger scale due to the size of its economy, is not all that different from what developed democracies such as Denmark or Israel are doing as well. That doesn't make it okay, and Gagnon is clear that this behavior gives manipulators an unfair advantage, but it does put the singling out of China into perspective.

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Dylan Matthews · July 13, 2012

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