Emerging market assets have long been a source of both potential profit and peril for investors. 2017 saw an incredible streak of capital inflows into emerging market equities, bonds and currencies. Whilst returns are still characteristically volatile, this historically maverick asset class has become more mature and resilient than ever before, as was highlighted during February's market sell-off.
On Friday, we are likely to receive confirmation that Chinese inflation jumped to almost 3% in February, up from 1.5% previously. Higher Chinese inflation conjures up scary scenarios. It could force the People's Bank of China into hiking interest rates when the economy is slowing and saddled with massive debt. It could also add to building inflationary pressures in the US and UK, hastening interest hikes and weighing on equity and bond prices. But relax! The jump in Chinese inflation shouldn’t trigger any of this.
This is the fourth and last in a series of blogs that looks at the risk of a hard landing in the Chinese economy. One problem when assessing this risk is the lack of historical precedents. Very few countries underwent debt build-ups of Chinese proportions, and those that did were usually very small, open economies. The one exception is 1990 Japan which displays some striking similarities with today’s China.
Chinese GDP statistics are notoriously unreliable at signalling turning points, so I decided to test the temperature on the ground with a macro tour in Beijing. A couple of days of meetings with policymakers, academics and investors left me comforted and alarmed in equal measure.
This is the third in a series of blogs that looks at the risks of a Chinese hard landing. In the first we argued that China still has important defences in the form of fiscal space. In the second, we discussed why the odds of financial crisis are not that high. In this blog, we ask whether China sits on a property bubble, which tend to end in violent and drawn-out recessions.