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中國經濟面臨崩潰危機 - G. Dyer
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Brace for China's impending crash

 

GWYNNE DYER, 03/15/12

 

LONDON — Building a skyscraper is the ultimate expression of economic confidence, and more than half of the 124 skyscrapers currently under construction in the world are being built in China. But confidence is often based on nothing more than faith, hope and cheap credit, and a frenzy of skyscraper-building is also the most reliable historical indicator of an impending financial crash.

 

The Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, the twin symbols of New York's  emergence as the world's financial capital, were started at the end of the "Roaring Twenties" but completed in the depths of the Great Depression. The Petronas Towers in Malaysia were built just before the Asian financial crash of 1998. Burj al-Khalifa in Dubai, now the world's tallest building, was just starting construction when the Great Recession hit in 2008.

 

China avoided that recession by flooding its economy with cheap credit — but that credit has mainly gone into financing the biggest property and infrastructure-building boom of all time. Such booms always end in a crash, but this time, we are told, will be different.

 

"This time will be different" is the traditional formula used to reassure nervous investors in the last years before a great economic bubble collapses. It was a constant refrain in the run-up to the Western financial crash of 2008-09, and now it is being heard daily about the Chinese property boom.

 

People in the West want to believe that China's economy will go on growing fast because the fragile recovery in Western economies depends on it. Twenty years of 10 percent-plus annual growth have made China the engine of the world economy, even though most Chinese remain poor. But the engine is fuelled by cheap credit, and most of that cheap money, as usual, has gone into real estate.

 

Take the city of Wuhan, southwest of Shanghai and about 500 km in from the coast. It is only China's ninth-largest city, but in addition to a skyscraper half again as high as the Empire State Building it is currently building a subway system that will cost $45 billion, two new airports, a whole new financial district, and hundreds of thousands of new housing units. It is paying for all this with cheap loans from state-run banks.

 

Last year Wuhan municipality spent $22 billion on infrastructure and housing projects although its tax revenues were only one-fifth of that amount. The bank loans were made to special investment corporations and do not appear on the city's books. The only collateral the banks have is city-owned land, and that is not a reliable asset in current circumstances.

 

Land in Wuhan has tripled in price during the property boom, and could quickly fall back to the old price or below if confidence in the city's future were to falter. That is quite likely to happen, since Wuhan's housing stock is already so overbuilt that it would take eight years to clear even the existing overhang of unsold apartments at the current rate of purchase, and never mind all the new stuff.

 

Multiply the Wuhan example by hundreds of other municipal authorities that are also borrowing billions to finance a similar "dash for growth," and you have a financial situation as volatile as the "sub-prime mortgage" scam that brought the U.S. economy to its knees. Except that when the Chinese property boom implodes, it may bring the whole world economy to its knees.

 

It would be nice to think that the worst of the recession is over in the developed countries, and that the emerging economies will continue to avoid a recession at all. But sometimes the cure can be worse than the disease. China's strategy for avoiding the economic crisis that has gripped the developed countries since 2008 has laid the foundations for an even worse home-grown recession in the near future.

 

"If you have had a good crisis, success can become a curse," wrote Albert Edwards, chief economist at the French bank Societe Generale, in late 2010. At that point, Chinese bank lending had almost doubled in three years; it has now almost tripled in four. Beijing knows that the property bubble is dangerous and is trying to switch spending to consumption, but that is a delicate operation that has to be done slowly, and there just isn't enough time.

 

When a housing and credit bubble goes out of control, Edwards warned, "you tap your foot on the brakes and whole thing starts crashing and you can't control it." China is heading for a classic "hard landing", and when it comes, it will slow the whole global economy to stall speed. The next global recession is not far off, it will be at least as bad as the last one, and this time few of the emerging economies (except perhaps India's) will be exempt.

 

Nobody knows what will happen in China itself when growth stops and unemployment soars, but the Communist regime is clearly frightened of the answer. Maybe it can ride the crisis out until growth resumes at a slower pace in a few years, but with its communist ideals long abandoned, its only remaining claim on people's loyalty has been its ability to deliver constantly rising prosperity.

 

If that collapses, so may the regime.

 

Gwynne Dyer is a London-based independent journalist whose articles are published in 45 countries.

 

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/eo20120315gd.html



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中國經濟活動大解密 - 林毅夫
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Demystifying the Chinese Economy

Justin Yifu Lin, 12/22/11

WASHINGTON, DC – China had an advanced and prosperous civilization for millennia until the eighteenth century, but then degenerated into a very poor country for 150 years. Now it has resurged to become the world’s most dynamic economy since launching its transition to a market economy in 1979. What drove these fateful changes?

In my recent book Demystifying the Chinese Economy, I argue that, for any country at any time, the foundation for sustained growth is technological innovation. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, craftsmen and farmers were the main source of innovation. With the largest population in the world, China was a leader in technological innovation and economic development throughout most of its history because it had a large pool of craftsmen and farmers.

The Industrial Revolution accelerated the pace of Western progress by replacing experience-based technological innovation with controlled experiments conducted by scientists and engineers in laboratories. This paradigm shift marked the coming of modern economic growth, and contributed to the global economy’s “Great Divergence.”

China failed to undergo a similar shift, owing primarily to its civil-service examination system, which emphasized the memorization of Confucian classics and provided little incentive for elites to learn mathematics and science.

The Great Divergence had a silver lining: developing countries could use technology transfers from advanced countries to achieve a faster rate of economic growth than the countries that were at the industrial vanguard. But China failed to exploit this benefit of backwardness until the transition from a command economy began in earnest.

In the wake of the communist takeover in 1949, Mao Zedong and other political leaders hoped to reverse China’s backwardness quickly, adopting a big push to build advanced capital-intensive industries. This strategy enabled China to test nuclear bombs in the 1960’s and launch satellites in the 1970’s.

But China was still a poor, agrarian economy; it held no comparative advantage in capital-intensive industries. Firms in those industries were not viable in an open, competitive market. Their survival required government protection, subsidies, and administrative directives. These measures helped China establish modern, advanced industries, but resources were misallocated and incentives distorted. Economic performance was poor. Haste made waste.

When China’s market transition started in 1979, Deng Xiaoping adopted a pragmatic, dual-track approach, rather than the “Washington Consensus” formula of rapid privatization and trade liberalization. On the one hand, the government continued to provide transitory protection to firms in priority sectors; on the other, it liberalized the entry of private enterprises and foreign direct investment into the labor-intensive sectors that were consistent with China’s comparative advantage but were repressed in the past.

This approach enabled China to achieve stability and dynamic growth simultaneously. Indeed, the benefits of backwardness have been breathtaking: 9.9% average annual GDP growth and 16.3% annual trade growth over the past 32 years – a stellar achievement that holds valuable lessons for other developing countries. Now China is the world’s largest exporter and its second largest economy, and more than 600 million people were pulled out of poverty.

Yet China’s success has not come without cost. Income disparities have widened, owing in part to the continuation of distortionary policies in various sectors, including the domination of China’s four large state-owned banks, the near-zero royalty on mining, and monopolies in major industries, including telecommunications, power, and financial services. Because such distortions (a legacy of the dual-track transition) result in income disparities, they ultimately repress domestic consumption and contribute to China’s trade imbalance. Those imbalances will remain until China completes its market transition.

I am confident that, notwithstanding the headwinds blowing from the eurozone crisis and the slump in demand worldwide, China can continue its dynamic growth. In 2008, China’s per capita income stood at 21% of the US level (measured in purchasing power parity), and was similar to Japan’s per capita income in 1951, South Korea’s in 1977, and Taiwan’s in 1975. Annual GDP growth averaged 9.2% in Japan from 1951 to 1971, 7.6% in South Korea from 1977 to 1997, and 8.3% in Taiwan from 1975 to 1995. Given the similarities between these economies’ experience and China’s post-1979 development strategy, it is likely that China can maintain 8% growth in the coming two decades.

Some may think that the performance of a country as unique as China, with more than 1.3 billion people, cannot be replicated. I disagree. Every developing country can have similar opportunities to sustain rapid growth for several decades and reduce poverty dramatically if it exploits the benefits of backwardness, imports technology from advanced countries, and upgrades its industries. Simply put, there is no substitute for understanding comparative advantage.

Justin Yifu Lin, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President for Development Economics at the World Bank, founded the China Center for Economi

c Research at Peking University. His latest book is Demystifying the Chinese Economy (Cambridge University Press.).

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2011.

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/lin5/English

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展望2030的中國發展 -- World Bank
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China 2030: Building a Modern, Harmonious, and Creative High-Income Society

 

World bank, 02/27/12

 

Download the Report

 

Full Report - China 2030: Building a Modern, Harmonious, and Creative High-Income Society(9.99mb pdf)

Executive Summary (79kb pdf)

Overview (952kb pdf)

Supporting Report 1: China: Structural Reforms for a Modern, Harmonious, Creative High-income Society (2.13mb pdf)

Supporting Report 2: China’s Growth through Technological Convergence and Innovation (1.61mb pdf)

Supporting Report 3: Seizing the Opportunity of Green Development in China(2.70mb pdf)

Supporting Report 4: Equality of Opportunity and Basic Security for All(2.97mb pdf)

Supporting Report 5: Reaching ‘Win-Win’ Solutions with the Rest of the World(899kb pdf)

 

Download the Presentation (72kb pdf)

 

BEIJING February 27, 2012 - China should complete its transition to a market economy -- through enterprise, land, labor, and financial sector reforms -- strengthen its private sector, open its markets to greater competition and innovation, and ensure equality of opportunity to help achieve its goal of a new structure for economic growth.

 

These are some of the key findings of a joint research report by a team from the World Bank and the Development Research Center of China’s State Council, which lays out the case for a new development strategy for China to rebalance the role of government and market, private sector and society, to reach the goal of a high income country by 2030.

 

The report, “China 2030: Building a Modern, Harmonious, and Creative High-Income Society”, recommends steps to deal with the risks facing China over the next 20 years, including the risk of a hard landing in the short term, as well as challenges posed by an ageing and shrinking workforce, rising inequality, environmental stresses, and external imbalances.

 

The report lays out six strategic directions for China’s future:

 

Completing the transition to a market economy;

Accelerating the pace of open innovation;

Going “green” to transform environmental stresses into green growth as a driver for development;

Expanding opportunities and services such as health, education and access to jobs for all people;

Modernizing and strengthening its domestic fiscal system;

Seeking mutually beneficial relations with the world by connecting China’s structural reforms to the changing international economy.

 

http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/2012/02/27/china-2030-executive-summary



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中國經濟穩定發展的六正道 - P. Smith
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6 Ways to Avoid an Economic Implosion in China

 

PATRICK SMITH, The Fiscal Times, 03/06/12

 

“What if China Fails?” This was the headline on an essay in the Wilson Quarterly in August 2010. It is now 2012, and we are still seeing strong economic growth, although Beijing just slashed the target to 7.5 percent--an 8-year low. In one form or another, I hear this question frequently: “What if China… sinks, implodes, explodes, breaks apart?” It is by now established as a form of Western paranoia.

 

But after years of foreigners’ fretting, China has indeed reached a moment of truth: Either it reforms its system or it tips over. The World Bank issued a report last week confirming as much. The interesting detail is that the research bureau of China’s State Council contributed to the report and put its name on it.

 

“China has now reached a turning point in its development path,” said Robert Zoellick, the World Bank’s president, as the report, "China 2030: Building a Modern, Harmonious, and Creative High-Income Society," was released in Beijing. “As China’s leaders know, the country’s current growth model is unsustainable.”

 

Zoellick has always been a straight talker, even when he was Washington’s special trade representative. And unsustainable is precisely the word for what now powers the Chinese economy forward at an historically unprecedented pace. There always had to be an end to the export-led, investment-led economic model managed by a Communist Party that amounts to not much more than authoritarian capitalists.

 

The looming question is the extent to which China’s coming period of reform will reflect the neoliberal principles so many in Washington and the multilaterals still favor (yes, even after 2008) or China’s actual conditions—its poverty levels, its income distribution, the proportion of farmers to factory workers, wage levels, and so on. China’s development plans should be one thing above all others: They should be China’s.

 

Here are the six key moves the World Bank and China’s leadership think will give China all that modernity, harmony, and creativity, not to mention high incomes:

 

• Keep advancing and complete the shift to a market economy. This will involve a raft of structural reforms, notably in the areas of state-owned enterprises, or SOEs, and policy in the financial sector—not least as it pertains to the yuan, China’s currency. The question is whether a Chinese market economy is supposed to resemble America’s or, say, Norway’s.

• Develop the capacity to innovate more quickly. In other words, move away from simply making products that others have designed and build research and development networks. Almost certainly, this is intended to help China reduce its dependence on exports and add higher-end jobs.

• Get “greener.” China already has an impressive record for producing green technologies. It also has a disgraceful record for obliterating its own environment, notably its cities, in the name of rapid growth. The point here is to use environmental stresses at home to make green technologies a growth driver.

• Spread the wealth. Expand access to jobs and to services such as health and education. This is a big item. It means decentralizing the economy while maintaining a strongly interventionist role in the distribution of income. If this were Western Europe, we would call the idea by its name: The requirement is for social democracy of one or another stripe.

• Modernize and strengthen the domestic fiscal system. Zoellick explained this goal simply enough. “Central to the report’s findings,” he said, “is the need for China to modernize its domestic financial base and move to a public financial system—at all levels of government—that’s transparent and accountable, overseen by fewer but stronger institutions, to help fund a changing economic, environmental, and social agenda.”

• Be a team player. Exploit mutually beneficial relations with the rest of the world by connecting China’s structural reforms to the changing international economy.
This is all meant to be accomplished in the next 28 years, as the report’s title suggests. Let’s put it this way: It is more than the U.S. or any country in Western Europe is likely to get done in the next three decades.

 

My views on China’s modernization and the World Bank’s thoughts on the matter are three.

 

First, implementing these reforms poses risk only if they are too extreme in the direction of free-market models. Beyond that, it is not implementing them that is risky, notably the need to bring hundreds of millions of Chinese into a modern economy.

 

Second, the World Bank and the State Council called these reforms urgent in their announcement of the China 2030 report. We will have to see what the Chinese leadership thinks “urgent” means. Part of its economic model has been a marked commitment to gradualism: The West has seen this, to its frustration, in the pace China has let the yuan float. China is unlikely to surrender this approach just because a multilateral institution thinks it should. Let’s call the reforms “urgent, with Chinese characteristics.”

 

Finally, there is one zone of pronounced risk. It is political. In this respect China is more fragile than many in the West appreciate. If the income distribution question is not managed properly, or if “market reforms” turn out to be off-the-shelf neoliberal ideas, China could get messy on its way to middle-class status.

 

The political equation that could tip China into severe social unrest would echo back upon all of us, given the extent to which China is already well-wired into the global economy. And this is touchy territory. Already there has been a dispute among the bureaucrats responsible for China’s SOEs: In the name of social equity, they do not want them privatized.

 

In this political aspect, coming days and months will be very interesting to watch in China. We will soon have the results of the National People’s Congress, which begins its annual meeting Monday. There are several seats on the nine-member standing committee of the Politburo that are open to competition this year.

 

Whoever wins will work closely with Xi Jinping and Li Kequiang, who are widely expected to replace President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao respectively later this year. Interestingly, Xi acknowledged that “there is always room for improvement” on the question of human rights during a recent visit to the White House. That is a softer line than Chinese leaders customarily bring to Washington.

 

This is an important transition for China. And it is all of a piece. In the end, human rights and political rights cannot be seen separately from the World Bank/State Council’s reform agenda. The report is a pile of paper and a collection of ideas. How they are implemented will determine the kind of society China will be in 2030.

 

http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2012/03/06/6-Ways-to-Avoid-an-Economic-Implosion-in-China.aspx#page1



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經濟是應用社會科學研究的對象。一個人在理論之外,需要有大量和相關的統計數字,才能言之成理和言而有據的談論經濟議題我欠缺前者的素養和後者的收集及了解這是我很少就它們發言的原因。不過,我看過很多走路和摔進水溝的豬。因此,我大概看得出那些論述」說得通,那些論述」在胡扯。偶而也會略表看法。

 

一般討論中國問題的外國人,對中國歷史、社會、和文化缺乏基本了解 -- 請參考中共發展觀察一欄中Prof. D. Guthrie薄熙來事件的深入分析(Understanding Chinese Politics Today)一文所做的觀察加上某些被個人意識型態「自我忽悠」的影響;他/她們根據過去西方經驗來評論中國當前問題連霧裏看花隔靴搔癢都談不上。瞎子摸象、隔山打牛,庶幾近之。Mr. T. Orlik中國經濟(即將)崩潰論」的五個論點就實務層面和西方當前情況做比較,提出批駁。我認為堪稱言之成理和言而有據我再多說也不過是狗尾之屬

 

以下兩篇拙作中提到我就中國經濟一些片面的看法。歡迎指教。

 

金融風暴和中國崛起

https://city.udn.com/2976/3524549?raid=3533395#rep3533395

淺談《中國︰隱憂重重的超強》》,                        https://city.udn.com/2976/2993403?tpno=1&cate_no=80786



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何不谈谈你的看法?
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胡說八道之中國經濟即將崩潰論 - T. Orlik
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Crisis, What Crisis? How to Beat Back the China Bears

 

Tom Orlik , China Real Time Report, WSJ, 02/24/12

 

For more more than two decades, prophets of China’s impending doom have warned that the greatest economic success story in recent history is about to come screeching to a halt. For more than two decades, they’ve been wrong.

 

Of course, China has problems: an unbalanced growth model, ballooning credit levels and aging work force among them. But does that mean the world’s second biggest economy is about to fall over?

 

As a public service for Panda-lovers, China Real Time has compiled a list of the naysayers’ main arguments, and counter arguments you can use to stop them in their tracks.

 

Argument No. 1: China is an over-invested bubble waiting to burst!

 

It’s true, China’s investment as a share of gross domestic product is at worrying levels –close to 50% according to the 2010 data. But that doesn’t mean China is maxed out on infrastructure. China’s entire railway network is still just 40% the length of the rail tracks in the U.S.

 

More important, calling for higher consumption misses the point about what drives China’s growth. Buying more iPads might add to demand, keeping growth buoyant in the short term. But it’s additions to China’s capital stock which have added to China’s productive capacity.

 

In fact, it’s only because China has invested so much that it has grown so quickly. And it’s only that rapid growth which has enabled a sharp increase in household incomes and consumer spending.

 

Argument No. 2: China’s real estate sector is about to collapse, dragging the rest of the economy down with it!

 

Yes, real estate is a big chunk of China’s economy, and yes, a correction in house prices is underway, nudging down investment in the sector.

 

But that slowdown is the result of deliberate government policy. In a China that is becoming richer and more urban, strong underlying demand for new and better homes means a collapse is unlikely.

 

Total lending to China’s real estate sector at the end of 2011 was just 22% of gross domestic product. In the U.S., mortgage lending at the end of 2007 was 103% of GDP. That means even if China’s house prices do fall, households won’t be bankrupt and the banking sector won’t fall over.

 

Argument No. 3: The shadow banking system is a disaster waiting to happen!

 

China’s credit levels have swollen to worrying levels, but that was necessary to underpin growth through the crisis years of 2009 and 2010. Meanwhile, off balance-sheet lending grew at a worrying rate, but as a share of total credit it never got that high.

 

At its peak in early 2008 the shadow banking system in the U.S. was almost twice the size of the traditional banking sector. In China, off balance-sheet lending remains a fraction of total outstanding credit. Bernstein analysts put it at 28% of the total at end 2010.

 

More important, Beijing is getting ahead of the curve on solving the problem. In the second half of 2011 growth in off balance sheet lending fell away sharply.

 

Argument No. 4: China’s labor force is shrinking! Rising wages will cripple competitiveness!

 

China’s labor force is not getting any bigger, and the inexhaustible supply of workers moving from farm to factory has started to dry up. But critics exaggerate the extent of the problem. There are still workers in China’s countryside, they are just unwilling to trek to faraway factories for work at today’s low wages.

 

Increases in the minimum wage (which are already taking place) and a move by factories inland (like Foxconn’s move to Chongqing) will help lure workers back off the farms. Even if wages do rise, they are starting from a very low base. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that in 2008, wages in China’s manufacturing sector were just 4% of their level in the U.S., and 20% of their level in Mexico.

Plus, if you’re worried about increasing consumption isn’t rising wages a good thing?

 

Argument No. 5: China’s debt levels are ballooning!

 

Yes, but again, from very low levels. China’s central government debt to GDP ratio is about 20%. Even if you add in a generous estimate of debt taken on by local government you only get to about 50%.

 

With the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio at about 100%, and Japan’s at 230%, in international perspective China’s problem doesn’t look that worrying. That’s especially true when you consider that almost all of China’s debt is held domestically, so there’s no chance of a Greek-style crisis with foreign creditors demanding repayment.

 

With higher debt levels and lower growth rates, the U.S., Europe and Japan wish they had China’s problems.

 

Tom Orlik is The Wall Street Journal’s Heard on the Street columnist in China.

 

http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2012/02/24/crisis-what-crisis-how-to-beat-back-the-china-bears/



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