The Chinese economy has been wracked by rural bank defaults and boycotts over mortgage payments. In the first half of this two-part blog post, I will explain these events and what they reveal about the health of Chinese markets. In the second part, I will discuss some of the crisis’s systemic implications.
Taxing capital inflows is a far better way to balance trade than imposing tariffs. This would address the root causes of trade imbalances, improve the productive investment process, and shift most of the adjustment costs onto banks and speculators.
China’s problem is excessive debt in the economy, not a banking system facing insolvency. Beijing’s reform strategy should reduce the debt burden as quickly as possible to minimize the economic costs.
Policies that affect the savings rate of a small country can have more-or-less predictable domestic impacts because the global economy is so large that domestic policies are not affected by external constraints. But with a large economy, the analysis changes.
Instead of a hard landing or a soft landing, the Chinese economy faces two very different options, and these will be largely determined by the policies Beijing chooses over the next two years.
While debt plays a key role in understanding the recent evolution of the Chinese economy and the timing and process of any further adjustment, there seems to be a remarkable amount of confusion as to why debt matters.
The plummeting valuation of China’s banks suggests that investors are losing confidence in China’s growth prospects.