What is truth?

There is much stunned confusion among Wall Street’s “best and brightest” following China’s historic Yuan devaluation overnight which was predicted by exactly zero of said best and brightest, just like nobody expected the SNB to give up its own peg to the EUR in January.

The problem as the WSJ puts it, is that a devaluation for China is both good, and very bad. Good because it will help the struggling export sector, which has stalled amid weak global demand. Exports in July, for example, sank more than 8% and they were down nearly 1% for the first seven months of the year.

At the same time, it was essential for the People’s Bank of China not to alarm domestic and foreign investors to avoid triggering a wave of capital outflows. Investors tend to dump a weakening currency and move their assets into other currencies. Thus, the PBOC said the move was a one-time reform effort to bring the yuan more in line with the markets.

That, of course, is a lie: the Fed’s first QE was a “one-time” abnormal monetary intervention which has since become the de facto standard of every single central bank.

Finally, the central bank may also have had the International Monetary Fund in its sights. The yuan is up for possible inclusion in international agency’s Special Drawing Rights, a basket of currencies that serves as a global reserve. Too big a move might have damaged Beijing’s case that the yuan is a suitable candidate for addition to that basket of currencies, analysts said.

To show the many different and often opposing views, here is a summary of sellside views compiled by Zero Hedge and the WSJ:

The PBOC adjusted the CNY fixing mechanism, which prompted a step weakening in today’s fixing. From now on, FX market makers are asked to base their contribution to CNY fixing on: i) the closing FX rate in the previous day, ii) CNY supply-demand conditions, and iii) the movements of other major currencies. While public comments suggest this could be a one-off move, in our view it increases the uncertainty around the future path of the CNY, especially if closing FX rate significantly deviates from the fixing. In our view, the market’s previous expectations for a fairly stable CNY have seemingly been de-anchored by the surprising move today. Although information at this stage is limited, our current expectation is that the PBOC will likely use open market FX operations to try to reduce sharp volatilities and avoid further destabilizing the market’s CNY expectations in coming days.

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