Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Real Chinese Black Swan: No Matter What China Does, It's in Trouble

Party rulers in China are trapped in a position that chess players deeply fear — zugzwang — where any move made puts you at disadvantage. In China, the potential cost of both action and inaction is economic collapse.

China is slowly starting to face the consequences of its actions — loans grew over 30% a year over the last few years — and inflation is rising fast. Inflation in developed countries is unpleasant, but it is tolerable. For a developing country — and China, despite its size, is still a developing country — it can be catastrophic. In developed countries, we spend two or three times less on food as a percentage of our income as do people in developing countries. Therefore, though food inflation is unpleasant, we have a much greater tolerance (margin of safety) for it. While food inflation the US can mean fewer trips to restaurants or no summer vacation, food inflation in China leads to hunger.

The Chinese government is desperately trying to put the brakes on the economy. It is shutting off lending to land developers and has raised bank reserve requirements five times this year. However, its success on the inflation front will likely lead to a slowdown of the economy and high unemployment. Ironically, those were the issues party planners tried to cure when they stimulated the hell out of the economy over the last few years. (read more)