Pettis, an expert on China’s economy, is professor of finance at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management, where he specializes in Chinese financial markets.
Michael Pettis is a nonresident senior fellow in the Carnegie Asia Program based in Beijing. An expert on China’s economy, Pettis is professor of finance at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management, where he specializes in Chinese financial markets.
From 2002 to 2004, he also taught at Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management and, from 1992 to 2001, at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business. He is a member of the Institute of Latin American Studies Advisory Board at Columbia University as well as the Dean’s Advisory Board at the School of Public and International Affairs.
Pettis worked on Wall Street in trading, capital markets, and corporate finance since 1987, when he joined the sovereign debt trading team at Manufacturers Hanover (now JPMorgan). Most recently, from 1996 to 2001, Pettis worked at Bear Stearns, where he was managing director principal heading the Latin American capital markets and the liability management groups. He has also worked as a partner in a merchant-banking boutique that specialized in securitizing Latin American assets and at Credit Suisse First Boston, where he headed the emerging markets trading team.
In addition to trading and capital markets, Pettis has been involved in sovereign advisory work, including for the Mexican government on the privatization of its banking system, the Republic of Macedonia on the restructuring of its international bank debt, and the South Korean Ministry of Finance on the restructuring of the country’s commercial bank debt.
He formerly served as a member of the Board of Directors of ABC-CA Fund Management Company, a Sino–French joint venture based in Shanghai. He is the author of several books, including The Great Rebalancing: Trade, Conflict, and the Perilous Road Ahead for the World Economy (Princeton University Press, 2013).
If local governments and state-owned enterprises in China systematically invest in projects that are not economically justified, to the extent that these projects are not correctly marked to market, China’s reported GDP will be overstated by that amount, as will its total wealth.
Policies that increase income inequality can in some cases lead to higher savings, higher investment, and greater long-term growth. But, in other cases, such policies either reduce growth and increase unemployment or force up the debt burden. What determines which of these outcomes takes place is whether or not savings are scarce and have constrained investment.
A number of Chinese companies are trying to shore up their stock prices with programs that encourage employees to buy shares and ensuring them against losses. These programs have implications about leverage in China and about the way losses may be distributed within the banking system.
In a recent much-remarked-upon and very short op-ed, George P. Shultz and Martin Feldstein argue that the only way, or at least the best way, to cut the U.S. trade deficit is for Washington to cut the U.S. fiscal deficit. It is at least as likely, however, that cutting the fiscal deficit will simply increase debt or increase unemployment.
Contrary to conventional thinking, a savings glut does not necessarily cause global savings to rise. A savings glut must result in an increase in productive investment, an increase in the debt burden, or an increase in unemployment.
As long as China has debt capacity, it can achieve any GDP growth rate Beijing requires, simply by allowing credit to expand. But debt levels are already high, and credit must expand at an accelerating pace to maintain growth. China is probably still a few years away from reaching its debt limits, but the more debt grows, the lower the country’s growth rate average will be over the long term.
Contrary to what one might first expect, Mexico’s role in global trade is actually beneficial to the United States. While restricting Mexican imports will reduce the American deficit with Mexico, it will increase the overall American deficit.
The Chinese development model is an old one and can trace its roots at least as far back as the infant industry protection, internal improvements, and system of national finance of the American System of the 1820s and 1830s. Understanding why the many precedents for its growth model have succeeded in some few cases and failed in others will help us enormously in understanding China’s prospects.
Whether the U.S. current account deficit is harmful or not to the U.S. economy depends on the assumptions we make about capital scarcity. In a world awash with excess capital and insufficient demand, the U.S. current account deficit is a drag on growth.
The three scenarios listed in a recent Financial Times article set out the range of plausible economic outcomes available to China. The most likely is that China experiences a long, but orderly, growth deceleration as it grinds away at its debt burden, but under easily specified conditions each of the three is possible.