Analysts are increasingly skeptical that China’s very high reported GDP growth rate provides a meaningful picture of the economy’s health. There are, however, at least three very different ways that reported GDP can fail to reflect the underlying economy.
China’s debt problems have emerged so much more rapidly and severely this year than in the past that a growing number of analysts believe that this may be the year that China’s economy breaks. There is no question that China will have a difficult adjustment, but it is likely to take the form of a long process rather than a sudden crisis.
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.
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.
China’s success will depend Beijing’s ability to centralize power, to begin to sell off government assets, to rein in credit growth, and to accept much lower GDP growth rates.
There is no way Beijing can address its debt problem without a sharp drop in GDP growth, but as unwilling as Beijing may be to see much lower growth, it doesn’t have any other option.
China is embarking on ambitious economic reforms to boost its growth prospects. What is the rationale behind these new reforms and what are the prospects for their success?
Some analysts contend that the RMB is no longer undervalued but is in fact overvalued. However, a more careful analysis suggests that the yuan is still undervalued, but perhaps not by much.
The structure of investment strategies in the Chinese stock markets had always guaranteed that this would be a brutally volatile market that trades almost exclusively on “the consensus about the consensus”, and therefore prices will reflect very rapid shifts in this consensus.
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.
If Pedro Sánchez Castejón hopes to lead Spain and his party out of its current economic crisis, he must recognize that the crisis is fundamentally a conflict between the interests of Europe’s bankers and of Europe’s workers.
The past two decades of Chinese growth have disproportionately benefited a small elite that has become increasingly entrenched; the next stage must focus on liberal reforms to build social capital more broadly.