Congress, Treasury, and the Accountability of Exchange Rate Policy: How the 1988 Trade Act Should Be Reformed
67 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2007
Date Written: September 2007
The controversy within the United States over Chinese exchange rate policy has generated a series of legislative proposals to restrict the discretion of the Treasury Department in determining currency manipulation and to reform the department's accountability to Congress. This paper reviews Treasury's reports to Congress on exchange rate policy - introduced by the 1988 Trade Act and Congress's treatment of them. It finds that the accountability process has often not worked well in practice: The reports provide only a partial basis for effective congressional oversight. For its part, Congress held hearings on less than half of the reports and overlooked some important substantive issues. Several recommendations can improve guidance to the Treasury, standards for assessment, and congressional oversight. These include (1) refining the criteria used to determine currency manipulation and writing them into law, (2) explicitly harnessing US decisions on manipulation to the International Monetary Fund's rules on exchange rates, (3) clarifying the general objectives of US exchange rate policy, (4) reaffirming the mandate to seek international macroeconomic and currency cooperation, (5) requiring Treasury to lead an executivewide policy review, and (6) institutionalizing multicommittee oversight of exchange rate policy by Congress. Legislators should strengthen reporting and oversight of broader exchange rate policy in addition to strengthening the provisions targeting manipulation.
Keywords: Exchange rate policy, currency manipulation, accountability, congressional oversight, China,Treasury, International Monetary Fund
JEL Classification: F31, F33, F42, F51, F53
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation