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.
History is littered with episodes where the rules of economics were declared dead, only for these rules to return with a vengeance. You remember the ‘end of the business cycle’ debate in the late 90s or the ‘great moderation’ paradigm of the early 00s? Despite these precedents and despite overwhelming evidence that large debt build-ups can end in tears, we believe a Chinese financial crisis is not that likely over the next 2-3 years.
Just as Hobbes’ Leviathan saves the people from the horrors of constant struggle and chaos, we ask whether the Chinese state can save the people from a hard landing.
We are fast approaching the Chinese leadership reshuffle in late 2017. Attention could turn from the current period of relative calm and stability to the medium-term challenges lying ahead. In this context, we are likely to encounter three myths about China’s growth slowdown.