Publications on China
One-Pager No. 54 | February 2018The outgoing governor of the People’s Bank of China recently warned of a possible Chinese “Minsky moment”—Paul McCulley’s term, most recently applied to the 2007 US real estate crash that reverberated around the world as a global financial crisis. Although Western commentators have weighed in on both sides of the debate about the likelihood of China’s debt bubble bursting, Senior Scholar L. Randall Wray argues that too little attention is being paid to the far more probable repeat of a US Minsky moment. US prospects for growth, as well as for successfully handling the next financial meltdown, are dismal, he concludes.
Working Paper No. 783 | January 2014
A Sovereign Currency ApproachThis paper examines the fiscal and monetary policy options available to China as a sovereign currency-issuing nation operating in a dollar standard world. We first summarize a number of issues facing China, including the possibility of slower growth, global imbalances, and a number of domestic imbalances. We then analyze current monetary and fiscal policy formation and examine some policy recommendations that have been advanced to deal with current areas of concern. We next outline the sovereign currency approach and use it to analyze those concerns. We conclude with policy recommendations consistent with the policy space open to China.Download:Associated Programs:Author(s):
One-Pager No. 44 | December 2013
Reorienting Fiscal Policy to Reduce Financial FragilitySince adopting a policy of gradually opening its economy more than three decades ago, China has enjoyed rapid economic growth and rising living standards for much of its population. While some argue that China might fall into the middle-income “trap,” they are underestimating the country’s ability to continue to grow at a rapid pace. It is likely that China’s growth will eventually slow, but the nation will continue on its path to join the developed high-income group—so long as the central government recognizes and uses the policy space available to it.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):
Working Paper No. 761 | March 2013
The Case of China
The recent declines in China’s financial account balance ended the “twin surplus” era and led to a modest decline in the stock of official reserves, which reflects a reversal in expectations for the Chinese currency. Negative balances, which have been visible in China’s financial balances since the last quarter of 2011, have heightened fears/anxiety in markets. These deficits stand in sharp contrast to the typical financial account surplus that existed until 2010. The announcement in September 2011 by Chinese monetary authorities of a “two-way floating” RMB in the foreign exchange market has unsettled market expectations and has led to a sharp fall in the financial balance. The latter brought a change in the expectations regarding the RMB-USD exchange rate. This change was reflected in the drop in foreign exchange assets, which was caused by a jump in short-term trade credits to prepay (for imports) in dollars, a rise in dollar advances from banks, and a withdrawal of dollar deposits. These changes have, of late, been a cause of concern relating to the future of China’s economic relations vis-à-vis trading and financial partners, which include the United States.
The experience of China, in a changing world beset with deregulation and with speculation affecting her external balance in recent years, provides further confirmation of John Maynard Keynes’s observation, in 1937, regarding uncertainty in markets: “About these matters there is no scientific basis on which to form any calculable probability whatever. We simply do not know.”Download:Associated Program:Author(s):
Public Policy Brief No. 119, 2011 | August 2011
The export-led growth paradigm is a development strategy aimed at growing productive capacity by focusing on foreign markets. It rose to prominence in the late 1970s and became part of a new consensus among economists about the benefits of economic openness.
According to Thomas I. Palley, this paradigm is no longer relevant because of changed conditions in both emerging-market (EM) and developed economies. He outlines the stages of the export-led growth paradigm leading to its adoption worldwide, as well as the various critiques of this agenda that have become increasingly prescient. He concludes that we should reduce reliance on strategies aimed at attracting export-oriented foreign direct investment and institute a new paradigm based on a domestic demand–led growth model. Otherwise, the global economy is likely to experience asymmetric stagnation and increased economic tensions between EM and industrialized economies.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Thomas I. Palley
Working Paper No. 643 | December 2010
Since the early 1990s, the number of papers estimating econometric models and using other quantitative techniques to try to understand different aspects of the Chinese economy has mushroomed. A common feature of some of these studies is the use of neoclassical theory as the underpinning for the empirical implementations. It is often assumed that factor markets are competitive, that firms are profit maximizers, and that these firms respond to the same incentives that firms in market economies do. Many researchers find that the Chinese economy can be well explained using the tools of neoclassical theory. In this paper, we (1) review two examples of estimation of the rate of technical progress, and (2) discuss one attempt at modeling investment. We identify their shortcomings and the problems with the alleged policy implications derived. We show that econometric estimation of neoclassical models may result in apparently sensible results for misinformed reasons. We conclude that modeling the Chinese economy requires a deeper understanding of its inner workings as both a transitional and a developing economy.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Jesus Felipe John McCombie
Working Paper No. 619 | September 2010
Recovery Prospects and the Future
The global crisis of 2007–09 affected developing Asia largely through a decline in exports to the developed countries and a slowdown in remittances. This happened very quickly, and by 2009 there were already signs of recovery (except on the employment front). This recovery was led by China’s impressive performance, aided by a large stimulus package and easy credit. But China needs to make efforts toward rebalancing its economy. Although private consumption has increased at a fast pace during the last decades, investment has done so at an even faster pace, with the consequence that the share of consumption in total output is very low. The risk is that the country may fall into an underconsumption crisis.
Looking at the medium and long term, developing Asia’s future is mixed. There is one group of countries with a highly diversified export basket. These countries have an excellent opportunity to thrive if the right policies are implemented. However, there is another group of countries that relies heavily on natural resources. These countries face a serious challenge, since they must diversify.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):
Working Paper No. 617 | September 2010
The Risk of Unraveling the Global Rebalancing
This paper investigates China’s role in creating global imbalances, and the related call for a massive renminbi revaluation as a (supposed) panacea to forestall their reemergence as the world economy recovers from severe crisis. We reject the prominence widely attributed to China as a cause of global imbalances and the exclusive focus on the renminbi-dollar exchange rate as misguided. And we emphasize that China's response to the global crisis has been exemplary. Apart from acting as a growth leader in the global recovery by boosting domestic demand to offset the slump in exports, China has in the process successfully completed the first stage in rebalancing its economy, which is in stark contrast to other leading trading nations that have simply resumed previous policy patterns. The second stage in China’s rebalancing will consist of further strengthening private consumption. We argue that this will be best supported by continued reliance on renminbi stability and capital account management, so as to assure that macroeconomic policies can be framed in line with domestic development requirements.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):
Working Paper No. 611 | August 2010The key factor underlying China’s fast development during the last 50 years is its ability to master and accumulate new and more complex capabilities, reflected in the increase in diversification and sophistication of its export basket. This accumulation was policy induced and not the result of the market, and began before 1979. Despite its many policy mistakes, if China had not proceeded this way, in all likelihood it would be a much poorer country today. During the last 50 years, China has acquired revealed comparative advantage in the export of both labor-intensive products (following its factor abundance) and sophisticated products, although the latter does not indicate that there was leapfrogging. Analysis of China’s current export opportunity set indicates that it is exceptionally well positioned (especially taking into account its income per capita) to continue learning and gaining revealed comparative advantage in the export of more sophisticated products. Given adequate policies, carefully thought-out and implemented reforms, and skillful management of constraints and risks, China has the potential to continue thriving. This does not mean, however, that high growth will continue indefinitely.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Jesus Felipe Utsav Kumar Norio Usui Arnelyn Abdon
One-Pager No. 1 | May 2010
How to End America's Trade Deficits
Now that America’s financial institutions have been brought back from the brink, the greatest threat to global economic stability is the gigantic trade imbalance between the United States, China, and other trading partners. A second big threat to economic stability, in the longer run, is global warming. Both problems are related to America’s addiction to cheap imports and foreign oil—bad habits that a clever cap-and-trade system could help us kick at last.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):