Arthur Hayes, the controversial founder of BitMEX and a seasoned figure in the cryptocurrency space, is raising a red flag about possible capital flight from China. According to Google Finance data, the Chinese yuan (CNY) has depreciated by more than 5% against the US dollar since the start of 2023.
Taking to the social media platform X, Hayes shared his insights with his 394,100 followers. He reported a conversation with Andrew Collier, a China analyst and the managing director of Orient Capital Research, who shed light on the prospect of Chinese capital flight.
Collier’s assessment suggests that monitoring the difference between China’s net export earnings (export earnings minus import costs) and the country’s foreign exchange reserves (the foreign currency assets held by China’s central bank) is a key indicator of potential capital flight.
Bloomberg data reveals that China’s foreign exchange reserves have increased by approximately $32 billion since the beginning of 2023. Meanwhile, Trading Economics data indicates China’s year-to-date trading surplus is around $553 billion.
Hayes concludes that roughly $520 billion “has left China to do something.” He speculates on potential destinations for these funds, offering several possibilities:
- Gold Purchases: China might invest heavily in gold to diversify its holdings.
- Debt Repayment: China could use these funds to pay down offshore USD debt its banks and corporations incurred.
- Wealthy Individuals: Wealthy individuals in China may be seeking to move their assets abroad.
Hayes underscores that what China needs to be doing is buying more US Treasuries, a trend that has been observed in the past. He explains that as long as the Japanese yen (JPY) weakens, the Chinese yuan (CNY) must also weaken to maintain the competitiveness of Chinese exports against Japan.
In closing, Hayes anticipates that wherever these Chinese capital outflows are headed, they will grow in magnitude. In a nod to the world of cryptocurrencies, he humorously adds, “I hope some finds its way to Lord Satoshi and BTC,” suggesting that Bitcoin could benefit from the capital-seeking alternative investments.
As global economic dynamics continue to evolve, monitoring the movement of capital in and out of major economies like China remains a critical factor in understanding the broader financial landscape. Arthur Hayes’ insights serve as a reminder of the complexities and nuances underlying these developments.