Thursday, May 5, 2011

China Number One in 2016

According to the IMF's latest projections, china will overtake the US as the world's largest economy in 2016. Mark Weisbrot of the London Guardian has some interesting observations on this:
China has been the world's fastest growing economy for more than three decades, growing 17-fold in real (inflation-adjusted) terms since 1980. It is worth emphasising that most of this record growth took place (1980-2000) while the rest of the developing world was doing quite badly by implementing neoliberal policy changes – indiscriminate opening to trade and capital flows, increasingly independent central banks, tighter (and often pro-cyclical) fiscal and monetary policies, and the abandonment of previously successful development strategies.

China clearly did not embrace these policy changes, which were promoted from Washington by institutions such as the IMF, World Bank, and later the WTO. (China did not even join the WTO until 2002.) It is true that China's growth acceleration included a rapid expansion of trade and foreign investment. But these were heavily managed by the state, to make sure that they fitted in with the government's development goals – quite the opposite of what happened in most other developing countries. China's goals included producing for export markets, promoting higher levels of technology (with the goal of transferring technology from foreign enterprises to the domestic economy), hiring local residents for managerial and technical jobs, and not allowing foreign investments to compete with certain domestic industries.

China's economy is still very much state-led, with the government controlling most of the financial system, the exchange rate, and about 44% of the assets of major industrial enterprises. That is why China was able to plow through the world recession with GDP growth of 9.8%, despite losing about 3.7 percentage points of GDP due to falling net exports...

2016: when China overtakes the USA
Mark Weisbrot
Wednesday 27 April 2011

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