Carry Trade Dynamics Under Capital Controls: The Case of China

49 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2015

See all articles by Michelle Zhang

Michelle Zhang

Peking University - HSBC School of Business

Christopher Balding

New Kite Data Labs

Date Written: June 27, 2015


Interest rate differentials between China and the rest of the world provide an attractive target for currency carry trade strategies, but remains problematic due to existing capital controls. We focus on copper holdings as an asset used to facilitate the carry trade. Using a unique dataset of copper stock holdings in Shanghai Futures Exchange, we study whether stock are held for carry trade or consumption purposes and how the copper carry trade position, proxied by copper stock value, reacts to the risk-return characteristics. Using an autoregressive distributed lag model, we reach three main conclusions. First, copper trade financing and stock are related to carry trade return, facilitating the Chinese carry trade. Second, copper carry trade positions are related to factors that affect return, including the onshore-offshore interest rate differential and the USD/CNY forward premium. For every 1 basis point increase in the onshore-offshore interest rate differential, copper carry trade positions increase by $1.5 million USD. Third, traders appear unconcerned about risk factors. FX volatility between RMB/USD makes no contribution to the modeling of copper carry trade position, meaning the carry traders are either fully hedged on FX risks, or they are unconcerned about FX risks. The findings imply that potentially lower Chinese interest rates may significantly reduce Chinese demand for copper and traders are profiting from the currency hedge in the form of fixed exchange rates.

Keywords: carry trade, capital controls, copper, commodities

JEL Classification: F31, F32, F34, F37, F38, G15

Suggested Citation

Zhang, Michelle and Balding, Christopher, Carry Trade Dynamics Under Capital Controls: The Case of China (June 27, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Michelle Zhang

Peking University - HSBC School of Business ( email )

University Town
Shenzhen, 518055

Christopher Balding (Contact Author)

New Kite Data Labs

United States

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