Posts tagged ‘Economic growth’

28/01/2016

Grossly Deceptive Plans (GDP) | The Economist

ON JANUARY 19th China declared that its gross domestic product had grown by 6.9% in 2015, accounting for inflation—the slowest rate in a quarter of a century.

It was neatly within the government’s target of “around 7%”, but many economists wondered whether the figure was accurate. Online chatter in China about dodgy GDP numbers was fuelled a week later by the arrest of the man who had announced the data: Wang Baoan, the head of the National Bureau of Statistics. The country’s anti-graft agency accused him of “serious disciplinary violations”, a euphemism for corruption. But beyond all the (justifiable) doubts about the figures lies another important question. That is: why does China have a GDP target at all?

It is the only large industrial country that sets one. Normally central banks declare specific goals for things like inflation or unemployment. The idea that a government should aim for a particular rate of output expansion, and steer the economy to achieve that, is unusual. In the case of China, which is trying to wean its economy off excessive reliance on GDP-boosting (but often wasteful and debt-fuelling) investment, it is risky. It is inconsistent with the government’s own oft-repeated mantra that it is the quality of growth that matters, not the quantity.

In the past, setting a target may not have made much difference. For all but three of the years between 1992 and 2015, China’s growth was above target, often by a big margin. A rare period when targets seemed to affect the way officials tried to manage the economy was from 2008 to 2009, when growth fell sharply (see chart). It would be hard to argue that targets themselves have been responsible for China’s overall (impressive) record of growth in recent decades.

Now, however, the economy is slowing. This is inevitable: double-digit growth is no longer achievable except at dangerous cost (total debt was nearly 250% of GDP in the third quarter of 2015). But the government is worried that the economy may slow too fast, and that this could cause a destabilising surge in unemployment. So it has been ramping up investment again, and goading local governments to do the same by setting a high growth target.

For a while there were signs that the leadership itself had doubts about the merits of GDP target-setting. In 2013 Xinhua, an official news agency, decried what it called the country’s “GDP obsession”. By the next year, 70 or so counties and cities had scrapped their targets. In 2015 Shanghai joined them, becoming the first big city to break with orthodoxy (each level of government sets its own GDP target, often higher than the national one). Liu Qiao of the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University says the central government ought to follow suit.

Last year there were hints that it might. The prime minister, Li Keqiang, said the government would not “defend [the target for 2015] to the death”. And in October, talking about the government’s work on a new five-year economic plan (which will run from 2016 to 2020), President Xi Jinping avoided mentioning a number. That raised expectations that targets might at least be downplayed, if not abandoned.

They have not been, however. An outline of the five-year plan, unveiled in November, contained the usual emphasis on growth. And Mr Xi appeared to change his tune, saying expansion must average at least 6.5% a year until 2020. Many economists believe that will require yet more debt-inducing stimulus. A GDP target for this year is all but certain to be announced, as usual, at the annual session of the legislature in March (when the five-year plan will also be adopted). It will probably be higher than 6%. Speculation that the government might set a target range in order to give itself more policymaking flexibility (as the IMF and the World Bank have urged) has ebbed. In December some national legislators complained that local governments were busting their debt ceilings because there was “still too much emphasis on GDP”.

So why is there still a target? The reasons are political. In a country so large, central leaders are always fearful of losing their grip on far-flung bureaucrats: setting GDP targets is one means by which they believe they can evaluate and control those lower down. Local officials are also judged by environmental standards, social policies and what the Communist Party calls “virtue”—that is, being uncorrupt and in tune with the party’s latest interpretation of Marxist doctrine. But GDP is usually the most important criterion, having the attraction of being (roughly) measurable.

Source: Grossly Deceptive Plans | The Economist

14/01/2016

Economists React: China’s December Trade Data May Mean Worst Is Over – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Better-than-expected export and import data in December suggest the beginning of a modest improvement in trade despite recent turmoil in Chinese financial markets, economists say, even as a weaker yuan helps exporters.

China’s exports in December were off 1.4% from a year earlier, a smaller decline than November’s 6.8% or the median 8% forecast of 15 economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal. Imports were down 7.6%, compared with November’s 8.7% and the 11% median forecast.

Following are excerpts from economists’ views on Wednesday’s trade data, edited for style and length:

The idea that China needs to devalue its currency to reflect a weakening export sector is not borne out by the 2015 trade figures, which show that China gained world-wide market share in a tough global trading environment. The past couple of months, we’ve seen exports surprise on the upside. Worries that something is going on in China behind the scenes, that real compelling economic fundamentals are pushing the yuan weaker, is inconsistent with what we’re seeing on the trade front.—Tim Condon, ING Group ING +0.96%

China’s December trade data was reassuring—indicating that, despite the turmoil on the stock and foreign-exchange markets, growth dynamics in the real economy are evolving more gradually and may actually be improving somewhat. The improvement in exports suggests that the global goods trade gained some momentum toward the end of 2015, with China helped by a weaker yuan. Headline December goods import data were down 7.6%, but import volumes have started to improve. We estimate import volumes were up 7.5% year on year in December, mainly due to better “normal imports” used in China’s own economy (rather than re-exported), implying a pickup in domestic demand momentum at the end of 2015.—Louis Kuijs, Oxford Economics

Better-than-expected trade data hint that the yuan depreciation in December—the currency fell 1.5% against the dollar—could have boosted external demand. For the year, China’s exports dropped by 2.8% and imports plunged by 14.1%. The underperformance of imports reflects sluggish demand for commodities as China moves toward a more consumption-driven growth model. It also highlights the deleveraging under way in China’s manufacturing sector because of the property slowdown. The mixed picture illustrated by China’s trade figures convinced us that growth will be under pressure. Also, China could steer further yuan depreciation at an appropriate pace and time to support economic growth and facilitate the deleveraging in many sectors plagued by overcapacity.—Zhou Hao, Commerzbank AG

China’s better-than-forecast trade figures may signal the beginning of a modest improvement as the yuan stabilizes against a weighted basket of currencies. That could translate into export growth of 5% to 7% and import growth of 1% to 2% this year. Demand may not be a big driver, but China is becoming more competitive with its exchange rate.—Ding Shuang, Standard Chartered STAN.LN +0.35%

China’s better-than-expected export data in December was mainly due to the world’s recovering appetite for exports from China, but its sustainability is still an open question. The devaluation of the yuan might have played a role in boosting exports, though it wasn’t the main driver. To what extent the yuan will influence exports this year is uncertain, given the central bank’s intervention in the foreign-exchange market. But January export figure should be relatively positive since 2015 provided a weak base for comparison.—Ma Xiaoping, HSBC HSBA.LN +0.49%

Source: Economists React: China’s December Trade Data May Mean Worst Is Over – China Real Time Report – WSJ

06/01/2016

What might happen in China in 2016? – McKinsey

Abbreviated from McKinsey: http://www.mckinsey.com/Insights/Strategy/What_might_happen_in_China_in_2016?cid=other-eml-alt-mip-mck-oth-1601

What’s in store for China in 2016?

The reality is that China’s economy is today made up of multiple subeconomies, each more than a trillion dollars in size. Some are booming, some declining. Some are globally competitive, others fit for the scrap heap. How you feel about China depends more than ever on the parts of the economy where you compete. In 2015, selling kit to movie theaters has been great business, selling kit to steel mills less so. In your China, are you dealing with a tiger or a tortoise? Your performance in 2016 will depend on knowing the answer to this question and shaping your plans accordingly.

Many well-established secular trends in China will continue in 2016. The service economy’s expansion is perhaps most prominent among them. In this piece, as usual, I won’t spend much time on the most familiar things. Instead, I will highlight what I believe will become the more important and more visible trends in 2016, either because they are now accelerating to scale or a discontinuity may become a tipping point. (For a quick summary, see sidebar, “The China Orr-acle: Gordon’s predictions for 2016.”) I hope you find my ideas valuable.

The 13th five-year plan—few surprises

Much of China’s 13th five-year plan will seem pretty familiar, as it has been flagged in advance at the Fifth Plenum and elsewhere. Perhaps the only challenge will be to interpret the plan’s intent clearly through the new “party speak” now coming to dominate government pronouncements.

The GDP growth target will still be 6 percent–plus, which will be softened a bit but not eliminated by parallel quality-of-life goals: the environment, health, income, and the like. Achieving the growth target will remain the core objective of fiscal and monetary policies, so expect lower interest rates and pressure on the exchange rate versus the US dollar in 2016. Financial reforms aimed at moving more of the economy toward a market-based allocation of capital will continue.

Meanwhile, there will be more progress on interest-rate deregulation, on the IPO process (registration rather than approval), on permitting new entrants (especially from the tech sector and from abroad) into financial services, and on reimplementing laws suspended in the summer of 2015. The plan will promote decentralization, but the reality is likely to be greater centralization. More infrastructure will be built, mainly to enhance intraregional development—for example, around Greater Beijing.

Green initiatives, reinforced by December 2015 commitments made in Paris and the “red alert” in Beijing that same month, will take center stage. The central government will make such big and visible commitments to its citizens that local authorities will have to mount a serious effort to deliver. There will be tougher emissions standards and more spending to support the development of nonfossil fuels. Green finance will be available. Both private-sector and state-owned companies will rebrand their ongoing initiatives as green. China will explicitly build new export engines from its emerging global leadership in green products; for example, expect to see lots of Chinese-made air-filtration products in Delhi and the rest of India in 2016. Beyond green initiatives, going global will remain a key theme, as detailed in the One Belt, One Road program.1

 

Finally, the plan will recognize China’s success in raising labor productivity over the past decade and prioritize the acceleration of productivity growth, for both capital and labor, from 2016 to 2020. The plan will raise the implications of higher productivity for workers: the disappearance of many traditional well-paying jobs and the need for increased labor mobility and for the lifetime renewal and development of skills. But I am concerned that implementation will be left to local administrators and that the regions requiring the most help will have the lowest amounts of money to invest in reskilling the workforce and the least impressive actual skills to deliver.

Fewer jobs, flatter incomes—and, potentially, less confidence

The workplace in China is already changing dramatically in ways that will create many individual losers—for example, workers in industry sectors in secular decline (such as steel or textiles) or in industries where technology is rapidly displacing people even as output grows (like financial services or retailing). The government must help these workers reskill themselves to deliver on its commitment that all parts of society will benefit from economic growth and to keep people actively engaged in the economy. It will not be enough for officials to visit major local employers, as they did during the global financial crisis, and press them to retain all their current workers.

The maturing of investing: More options for Chinese investors and foreign investment managers

Chinese investors today remain dependent on bank deposits and property. Yet after the volatility of the property and stock markets in 2015, investors want to diversify into more stable vehicles. The number of wealth managers seeking to address this need has increased massively. Often, their main challenge is not finding clients but rather credible products to sell. The main challenge for investors is to find advisers they can trust; most simply push the products that give them the largest commission.

Manufacturing in China is changing, not disappearing

The closely watched manufacturing purchasing manager’s index (PMI) remains below 50, which indicates deterioration, leading to talk that the country may be nearing the end of its time as a manufacturer for the world. Let’s be clear: manufacturing is not about to become irrelevant in China. However, the country is evolving toward extremes of performance: the truly awful and the genuinely competitive.

 

Agricultural imports are rising and rising

In 2016, China’s growing food needs will drive agricultural imports to record highs in both volume and value. A wider range of countries than ever before will find agricultural-export opportunities there.

More centralization

The Chinese media, especially during President Xi’s increasingly frequent trips abroad, made it clear that economic decision making has been centralized over the past two years. China will become still more centralized in 2016, rolling back decentralization where it had unintended outcomes. For example, after local governments received authority to approve new power plants, more than 150 new coal-fired ones were green-lit in the first nine months of 2015—more than three times the number approved in 2013, under the old centralized decision-making process. Unsurprisingly, coal-producing areas granted the largest number of approvals for plants that weren’t required under any realistic demand projection, even setting aside the question of whether any new plants at all should be coal fired. State-owned enterprises are behind most of these projects and would expect to be bailed out if they fail. Thus, for multiple reasons, such decisions will be recentralized.

Moving people at scale—the middle class, not peasants

Despite prodigious investment, many Chinese cities cannot build enough quality infrastructure to avoid massive day-to-day congestion. Even though the new five-year plan will commit the country to build more of it, that will not solve these problems; growth has simply outstripped potential solutions. For example, Beijing’s population officially grew by 60 percent, to 21 million, in just the past 14 years—and unofficially by significantly more.

Movies in China: $$$

A Chinese movie will gross $500 million domestically in 2016. As a benchmark, the highest-grossing movie of all time on US domestic screens is Avatar, at $760 million. This year’s leading domestic productions in China were Monster Hunt (which has grossed $380 million as of September) and Lost in Hong Kong (more than $200 million). The leading international movie, Furious 7, grossed almost $400 million in China. The country’s box office has been set to grow by almost 50 percent in 2015, and new screen additions alone should deliver 20 percent–plus growth in 2016. More than half of the top-ten movies for 2015 (as of late November) are domestic productions, and 60 percent of the box office comes from Chinese movies. The country’s producers and directors have clearly tapped into what excites local moviegoers (and what censors permit).

China continues to go global, with the United Kingdom as a new focal point

China’s outbound investment will accelerate in 2016, with One Belt, One Road–related initiatives driving much of it. A second driver will be distressed-asset acquisitions in basic materials and related sectors: Chinese acquirers may plan not to extract the assets in the near term but simply to stockpile them as long-term insurance. Finally, a growing share of the acquisitions will come from private-sector companies that aspire to global leadership. These companies are increasingly sophisticated buyers, conducting quality due diligence, working with traditional advisers, and focusing on countries where they think that warm political relations will make it easier to do deals.

And finally . . .

My enduring prediction that big business would embrace soccer in China has finally been realized, even if that happened more slowly than I expected. Footballer Sergio Agüero, of Manchester City Football Club, took what became one of the world’s most shared selfies, with President Xi and British Prime Minister David Cameron. It seemed only a matter of time before Chinese capital (specifically, China Media Capital and CITIC Capital Holdings) invested in Manchester City and its global network of teams, which includes the New York City Football Club. Other leading teams are exploring how to participate in China. Arsenal Football Club has a multiyear grassroots program in place, as does Real Madrid. And outbound investment in soccer is growing, highlighted when Wanda Group bought into Atlético de Madrid in 2015.

As always, don’t overfocus on short-term noise about Chinese GDP growth. Try to identify the medium-term direction of the parts of the economy relevant to your business. Enjoy China in 2016!

Gordon Orr is a director emeritus of McKinsey and senior external adviser.

12/11/2015

Five myths about the Chinese economy – McKinsey Quarterly

A widely held Western view of China is that its stunning economic success contains the seeds of imminent collapse. This is a kind of anchoring bias,1 which colors academic and think-tank views of the country, as well as stories in the media. In this analysis, China appears to have an economy unlike others—the normal rules of development haven’t been followed, and behavior is irrational at best, criminal at worst.

There’s no question, of course, that China’s slowdown is both real and important for the global economy. But news events like this year’s stock-market plunge and the yuan’s devaluation versus the dollar reinforce the refrain, among a chorus of China watchers, that the country’s long flirtation with disaster has finally ended, as predicted, in tears. Meanwhile, Chinese officials, worried about political blowback, are said to ignore advice from outside experts on heading off further turmoil and to be paranoid about criticism.

My experience working and living in China for the past three decades suggests that this one-dimensional view is far from reality. Doubts about China’s future regularly ebb and flow. In what follows, I challenge five common assumptions.

  1. China has been faking it

A key tenet of the China-meltdown thesis is that the country has simply not established the basis for a sustainable economy. It is said to lack a competitive, dynamic private-enterprise structure and to have captured most of the value possible from cheap labor and heavy foreign investment already.

Clearly, China lacks some elements of a modern market economy—for example, the legal system falls short of the support for property rights in advanced countries.2 Nonetheless, as China-economy scholar Nicholas Lardy recently pointed out, the private sector is vibrant and tracing an upward trend line. The share of state-owned enterprises in industrial output continues to drop steadily, from 78 percent in 1978 to 26 percent in 2011.3 Private industry far outstrips the value added in the state sector, and lending to private players is growing rapidly.

In fact, much of China’s development model mirrors that of other industrializing and urbanizing economies in Asia and elsewhere. The high savings rate, initial investments in heavy industries and manufacturing, and efforts to guide and stabilize a rapidly industrializing and urbanizing economy, for example, resemble the policies that Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan followed at a similar stage of their development. This investment-led model can lead to its own problems, as Japan’s experience over the past 20 years indicates. Still, a willingness to intervene pragmatically in the market doesn’t imply backwardness or economic management that’s heedless of its impact on neighboring economies and global partners.

Furthermore, China’s reform initiatives4 since 2013 are direct responses to the structural changes in the economy. The new policies aim to spur higher-value exports, to target vibrant emerging markets, to open many sectors for private investors, and to promote consumption-led growth rooted in rising middle-class incomes. Today, consumption continues to go up faster than GDP, and investors have recently piled into sectors from water treatment to e-commerce. These reforms are continuing at the same time China is stepping up its anticorruption drive, and the government hasn’t resorted to massive investment spending (as it did in 2008). That shows just how important the reforms are.

  1. China’s economy lacks the capacity to innovate

Think tanks, academics, and journalists alike maintain that China has, at best, a weak capacity to innovate—the lifeblood of a modern economy. They usually argue as well that the educational system stomps out creativity.

My work with multinationals keen on partnering with innovative Chinese companies suggests that there’s no shortage of local players with a strong creative streak. A recent McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) study describes areas where innovation is flourishing here.5 Process innovations are propelling competitive advantage and growth for many manufacturers. Innovation is at the heart of the success of companies in sectors adapting to fast-changing consumer needs, so digital leaders like Alibaba (e-commerce) and Xiaomi (smartphones) are emerging as top global contenders. Heavy investment in R&D—China ranks number two globally in overall spending—and over a million science and engineering graduates a year are helping to establish important beachheads in science- and engineering-based innovation. (See “Gauging the strength of Chinese innovation.”)

  1. China’s environmental degradation is at the point of no return

To believe this, you need to think that the Chinese are content with a dirty environment and lack the financial muscle to clean things up. OK, they got things wrong in the first place, but so did most countries moving from an agrarian to an industrial economy.

In fact, a lot that’s good is happening. Start with social activism. A documentary on China’s serious air-pollution problems (Under the Dome), by Chai Jing—a former journalist at China Central Television (CCTV), the most important state-owned broadcaster—was viewed over 150 million times in the three days after it was posted online, in March 2015. True, the 140-minute video, which sharply criticizes regulators, state-owned energy companies, and steel and coal producers, was ultimately removed. But the People’s Daily interviewed Chai Jing, and she was praised by a top environmental minister.

China is spending heavily on abatement efforts, as well. The nation’s Airborne Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan, mandating reductions in coal use and emissions, has earmarked an estimated $277 billion to target regions with the heaviest pollution.6That’s just one of several policy efforts to limit coal’s dominance in the economy and to encourage cleaner energy supplies. My interactions with leaders of Chinese cities have shown me that many of them incorporate strict environmental targets into their economic master plans.

  1. Unproductive investment and rising debt fuels China’s rapid growth

To believe this, you would have to think, as many skeptics do, that the Chinese economy is fundamentally driven by overbuilding—too many roads, bridges, and buildings.7 In fact, as one economist has noted, this is a misperception created by the fact that the country is just very big. An eye-popping statistic is illustrative: in 2013, China consumed 25 times more cement than the US economy did, on average, from 1985 to 2010. But adjusted for per-capita consumption and global construction patterns, China’s use is pretty much in line with that of South Korea and Taiwan during their economic booms.8

China’s rising debt, of course, continues to raise alarms. In fact, rather than deleveraging since the onset of the financial crisis, China has seen its total debt quadruple, to $28.2 trillion last year, a recent MGI study found.9 Nearly half of the debt is directly or indirectly related to real estate (prices have risen by 60 percent since 2008). Local governments too have borrowed heavily in their rush to finance major infrastructure projects.

While the borrowing does border on recklessness, China’s government has plenty of financial capacity to weather a crisis. According to MGI research, state debt hovers at only 55 percent of GDP, substantially lower than it is in much of the West. A recent analysis of China’s financial sector shows that even in the worst case—if credit write-offs reached unprecedented levels—only a fairly narrow segment of Chinese financial institutions would endure severe damage. And while growth would surely slow, in all likelihood the overall economy wouldn’t seize up.10

Finally, the stock-market slide is less significant than the recent global hysteria suggests. The government holds 60 percent of the market cap of Chinese companies. Moreover, the stock market represents only a small portion of their capital funding. And remember, it went up by 150 percent before coming down by 40.

Rumors drive the volatility on China’s stock exchange, often in anticipation of trading by state entities. The upshot is that the direct impact on the real economy will most likely be some reduction in consumer demand from people who have lost money trading in shares.

  1. Social inequities and disenfranchised people threaten stability

On this one, I agree with the bears, but it’s not just China that must worry about this problem. While economic growth has benefited the vast majority of the population, the gap between the countryside and the cities is increasing as urban wealth accelerates. There’s also a widening breach within urban areas—the rich are growing richer.11

Urban inequality and a lack of access to education and healthcare are not problems unique to China. People here and in the West may find fruitful opportunities to exchange ideas because the pattern across Western economies is similar. Leaders of the central government have suggested policies to improve income distribution and to create a fair and sustainable social-security system, though implementation remains a matter for localities and varies greatly among them.

In short, China’s growth is slower, but weighing the evidence I have seen, the sky isn’t falling. Adjustment and reform are the hallmarks of a stable and responsive economy—particularly in volatile times.

From: http://www.mckinsey.com/Insights/Winning_in_Emerging_Markets/Five_myths_about_the_Chinese_economy?cid=other-eml-alt-mkq-mck-oth-1511

02/11/2015

The power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in India | McKinsey & Company

India has a larger relative economic value at stake from advancing gender equality than any of the ten regions analyzed in a recent McKinsey Global Institute report, The power of parity: How advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth.

If all countries were to match the momentum toward gender parity of the fastest-improving countries in their region, $12 trillion a year could be added to global GDP. What’s more, India could add $700 billion of additional GDP in 2025, upping the country’s annual GDP growth by 1.4 percentage points (exhibit).

Our new report, The power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in India, reveals that about 70 percent of this “best in region” potential would come from raising women’s participation in India’s labor force by ten percentage points between now and 2025, bringing 68 million more women into the labor force—70 percent of them in just nine states. This will require bridging both economic and social gender gaps. To determine this, we have created a measure of gender equality for Indian states: the India Female Empowerment Index, or Femdex. Our analysis shows that scores vary widely, and India’s challenge is that the five states with the lowest gender inequality account for just 4 percent of the female working-age population; the five states with the highest inequality account for 32 percent.

Eight priority actions can help accelerate progress, including education and skill-building, job creation in key sectors, corporate policies to promote diversity, and programs to address deep-rooted mind-sets about the role of women in work.

Source: The power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in India | McKinsey & Company

01/11/2015

Gauging the strength of Chinese innovation | McKinsey & Company

The events of 2015 have shown that China is passing through a challenging transition: the labor-force expansion and surging investment that propelled three decades of growth are now weakening.

Gauging the strength of Chinese innovation

This is a natural stage in the country’s economic development. Yet it raises questions such as how drastically the expansion of GDP will slow down and whether the country can tap new sources of growth.

New research1 by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) suggests that to realize consensus growth forecasts—5.5 to 6.5 percent a year—during the coming decade, China must generate two to three percentage points of annual GDP growth through innovation, broadly defined. If it does, innovation could contribute much of the $3 trillion to $5 trillion a year to GDP by 2025.2 China will have evolved from an “innovation sponge,” absorbing and adapting existing technology and knowledge from around the world, into a global innovation leader. Our analysis suggests that this transformation is possible, though far from inevitable.

To date, when we have evaluated how well Chinese companies commercialize new ideas and use them to raise market share and profits and to compete around the world, the picture has been decidedly mixed. China has become a strong innovator in areas such as consumer electronics and construction equipment. Yet in others—creating new drugs or designing automobile engines, for example—the country still isn’t globally competitive. That’s true even though every year it spends more than $200 billion on research (second only to the United States), turns out close to 30,000 PhDs in science and engineering, and leads the world in patent applications (more than 820,000 in 2013). Video   McKinsey director Kevin Sneader discusses global innovation trends at a recent World Economic Forum event.

When we look ahead, though, we see broad swaths of opportunity. Our analysis suggests that by 2025, such new innovation opportunities could contribute $1.0 trillion to $2.2 trillion a year to the Chinese economy—or equivalent to up to 24 percent of total GDP growth. To achieve this goal, China must continue to transform the manufacturing sector, particularly through digitization, and the service sector, through rising connectivity and Internet enablement. Additional productivity gains would come from progress in science- and engineering-based innovation and improvements in the operations of companies as they adopt modern business methods.

To develop a clearer view of this potential, we identified four innovation archetypes: customer focused, efficiency driven, engineering based, and science based. We then compared the actual global revenues of individual industries with what we would expect them to generate given China’s share of global GDP (12 percent in 2013). As the exhibit shows, Chinese companies that rely on customer-focused and efficiency-driven innovation—in industries such as household appliances, Internet software and services, solar panels, and construction machinery—perform relatively well. Exhibit Enlarge However, Chinese companies are not yet global leaders in any of the science-based industries (such as branded pharmaceuticals) that we analyzed. In engineering-based industries, the results are inconsistent: China excels in high-speed trains but gets less than its GDP-based share from auto manufacturing. In this article, we’ll describe the state of play and the outlook in these four categories, starting with the two outperformers.

Source: Gauging the strength of Chinese innovation | McKinsey & Company

01/11/2015

China Pessimism Is Overblown, IMF Says, Citing Booming Services Sector – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Recent Chinese economic data is stoking fear the world’s second largest economy is decelerating at pace that could pull the global economy into a recession. But the International Monetary Fund’s top Asia economist, Changyong Rhee, says such pessimism may be unwarranted.

A booming services sector—such as shipping and retail—is offsetting the collapse in manufacturing, he argues. Advertisement “We don’t think there’s enough evidence based on the manufacturing sector that there will be a hard landing,” Mr. Rhee said in an interview. “They definitely have a manufacturing slowdown, an overcapacity problem. But other parts of China are actually growing faster.” If Beijing relies too much on monetary policy to stimulate growth, it could fuel China’s economic problems rather than fix them, the IMF official cautioned. His warning came as the People’s Bank of China on Friday cut interest rates again in a bid to revive growth.

Old ways of measuring China’s economy—such as looking at electricity consumption—are outdated because they don’t accurately reflect the changing nature of growth, Mr. Rhee said. Services now account for more than 50% of the country’s economy and there is a good chance their contributions are being underestimated, he said. On first glance, China’s trade data appears to support worries about the economy. But digging a little deeper into the numbers may actually show the country’s move towards a growth model more reliant on consumer demand is already bearing fruit.

Although the value of imports has fallen, volumes tell a different story. By adjusting for the fall in commodity prices and the appreciation in the yuan, the IMF calculates imports actually grew in July by 2%. And while the amount of goods imported has declined, imports of services are in double digits.

China’s real-estate sector has also fomented concerns. But Mr. Rhee said there are signs property prices are stabilizing. That is not to say the IMF believes there is no cause for apprehension. Beijing fueled its stellar growth rate over the last two decades through cheap credit. Souring global growth prospects revealed a country vastly overinvested in manufacturing capacity, particularly by state-owned enterprises. The IMF estimates overinvestment totals nearly 25% of the country’s growth domestic product. That means government-owned firms will struggle to pay their loans on mountains of credit. “If they mismanage the financial market, then they could have a hard landing,” Mr. Rhee said.

Beijing is facing a daunting task. Winding down the amount of credit in the system too quickly could stall growth. But failure to cut corporate debt levels and deal with bad loans quickly could create a bigger credit crisis over the next couple of years. “One question is whether China can manage this transition with the current governance system,” the senior IMF official said. “That is a critical issue.” Beijing will need to ensure government agencies take greater responsibility for their respective areas of oversight and state-owned companies will need to have stronger budget constraints, he said. China’s recent market turmoil revealed a weak regulatory structure. And overhauling a political system that relied on state-owned firms to boost growth and enrich regions is also expected to be a challenge.

That’s why, even though the IMF is backing more stimulus by Beijing to prevent too much deceleration in the economy, fund officials are concerned the government may depend too much on the old system of juicing the economy through credit. Counting on monetary policy, rather than using the budget to stimulate the economy, could exacerbate the problem of overcapacity.

“If they rely on monetary policy too much, then they would continue the classic credit expansion,” Mr. Rhee said. Besides fueling bad investments by state-owned enterprises, it could also “drag on necessary structural and governance reforms.”

Source: China Pessimism Is Overblown, IMF Says, Citing Booming Services Sector – China Real Time Report – WSJ

20/10/2015

Survey Shows China Passes U.S. in Stuff Built – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China is the world’s No. 2 economy by most measures, but by one it has surpassed the U.S. China has overtaken the U.S. as the world’s wealthiest nation in terms of built assets in 2014, and is likely to double that of the U.S. by 2025, according to the Arcadis Global Built Asset Wealth Index.

The study compares 32 countries in terms of their buildings and infrastructure – homes, schools, roads, airports, power plants, malls, rail tracks  and other structures. In fact, China’s stock of built assets will exceed the next four economies combined in the next 10 years, according to the index.

The firm calculates the data at purchasing-power-parity rates, which adjusts the figures to account for differing costs in each country. That measure tends to boost the size of figures from developing countries. China has the largest stock of built assets at $47.6 trillion in 2014 and the U.S. came in second at $36.8 trillion, according to the study released Monday. In the last report, the U.S. was ahead at $39.7 trillion in 2012 compared to China’s $35.4 trillion. China’s rapid asset building came alongside soft investment in the U.S. to replace old machinery, equipment and buildings, the report said.

The index is billed as an alternative economic indicator to measure a country’s performance. the index quantifies the value of a country’s infrastructure as well as its public and private property.

Policymakers have been trying to direct the Chinese economy to rely more on consumer spending rather than investment. Still,  the pace of economic rebalancing has been slow, leading to softer growth despite some positive signs in China’s consumer sector.

The transition “is encountering difficulties, as the government has repeatedly used fiscal stimulus to try to meet its growth targets,” said the report. “The proportion of the economy accounted for by investment is falling only very slowly.  This keeps China’s built asset stock growing rapidly.”

China’s economy grew at 6.9% in the third quarter this year, falling below 7% for the first time since 2009. In the past two years, Beijing has been struggling to turn to more sustainable drivers of growth amid mounting concerns about manufacturing overcapacity and an oversupplied property market.

“There is also likely to be significant underutilization of assets in China given growth is so rapid and much asset creation is pre-emptive, also known as ‘build it and they will come,’” said the biennial report. Since 2000, China has invested $33 trillion in built assets, with its investment in infrastructure at 9% of GDP, dwarfing the U.S.’s current 2%said the report. In per capita terms, however, populous China appears far from being overbuilt.

China’s built asset wealth per person stood at $34,100, which ranks it No. 24 worldwide, unchanged from its previous ranking in 2012, according to the index. The latest figure is slightly less than a third of the U.S. per capita figure of $114,100. The countries at the top of this ranking are disproportionately made up of smaller nations by population or area, hence the density of built asset stock is much greater per resident, the report said.

Source: Survey Shows China Passes U.S. in Stuff Built – China Real Time Report – WSJ

12/09/2015

China’s top graft-buster breaks taboo by discussing Communist Party’s ‘legitimacy’ | South China Morning Post

Open discussion by top graft-buster Wang Qishan about the legitimacy of the ruling Communist Party – a topic long deemed unquestionable – has raised the eyebrows of some commentators. Graft-buster Wang Qishan has raised some eyebrows with his comments on the Communist Party's 'legitimacy'. Photo: AFP

“The legitimacy of the Communist Party of China derives from history, and depends on whether it is supported by the will of the people; it is the people’s choice,” Wang said when meeting some 60 overseas attendants of the Party and World Dialogue 2015 in Beijing on Wednesday. ADVERTISING Analysts said the aberration was a step forward but some disagreed with Wang’s interpretation of “legitimacy”.

Zhang Lifan, a Beijing-based commentator, said Wang’s remarks reflected a shift of attitude in the party as a result of intensified social conflicts and increasing pressure from an underperforming economy.

“In the past, the issue was not allowed to be discussed, because the [party] thinks [its rule] is justified unquestionably. As the old saying goes, ‘political power grows out of the barrel of a gun’. They fought their way into the ruling position, instead of being elected into it,” Zhang said. [The Communist Party’s] legitimacy was maintained by relying on economic growth, but now economic growth is facing problemsZHANG LIFAN, COMMENTATOR

“Its legitimacy was maintained by relying on economic growth, but now economic growth is facing problems. In the past people thought [the party] could continue governing and did not have strong opposition to it because they still had money in their pocket. Now the size of their pockets have shrunk,” he said.

Zhang Ming , a political scientist with Renmin University, applauded Wang’s courage, but disagreed with his use of “legitimacy”. “You can’t talk about legitimacy merely from a historical perspective. How to let the people express their approval or disapproval [of the government]? The ballots are the most obvious way,” he said.

Steve Tsang, a senior fellow at the China Policy Institute of the University of Nottingham, said the “legitimacy” Wang mentioned did not mean democratic accountability.

“The will of the people, in China’s political reality, is collected and reorganised into something in line with what the party wants,” he said.

“Then [it] uses the powerful propaganda machinery to ensure the people embrace the newly reformulated views as their own.”

Source: China’s top graft-buster breaks taboo by discussing Communist Party’s ‘legitimacy’ | South China Morning Post

07/09/2015

India ranks low on inclusive growth, development in WEF report – The Hindu

Ranked in the bottom half of the 38 countries that make up our lower middle income bracket. India has been ranked very low, mostly in the bottom half, globally on most of the parameters for inclusive growth and development even as it fares much better internationally when it come to business and political ethics. India’s overall place in the Global Competitiveness Index 2014–2015 rankings is 71 out of 144 countries.

Growth and Development Report is the first inclusive report ever by World Economic Forum that assess countries’ efforts to foster economic growth that raises the living standards of entire societies.In a first of its kind global rankings, across different groups of countries in terms of their per capita income levels, the World Economic Forum (WEF) found that most countries are in fact missing major opportunities to reduce income inequality and same is the case with India. WEF said that the new study, which was conducted over the past two years, seeks to identify the various ways policymakers can drive economic growth and equity at the same time and assesses them on their relative success in implementing these measures. “Our message is unequivocally that leaders must pursue economic strategies that are at the same time pro-growth and pro-labour,” said the Geneva-based think tank known for its economic conclaves held in different parts of the world including in Davos, Switzerland and in India. India has mostly been ranked in the bottom half of the 38 countries that make up our lower middle income bracket.

Particularly disappointing is its position in terms of Fiscal Transfers, where it ranks 37th out of 38. It also ranks very low at 32nd for Tax Code and 36th for social protection. WEF said that another area that policymakers in India would need to prioritise improvement would be ‘Asset building and entrepreneurship’, in particular the Small business ownership, where India ranks bottom among its peers at 38th place. However, India does demonstrate ‘leadership’ in some areas, WEF said, while naming areas like corruption and rent where it comes 8th.

For business and political ethics, India ranks 12th, while it ranks 11th on the Financial intermediation of real economy investment pillar, which suggests that money invested in the economy generally gets directed towards productive uses. WEF said its first Inclusive Growth and Development Report present a new framework for assessing countries’ efforts to foster economic growth that raises the living standards of entire societies. “Around the world, no bigger policy challenge preoccupies political leaders than expanding social participation in the process and benefits of economic growth,” WEF said while releasing the report that covers 112 economies.

Source: India ranks low on inclusive growth, development in WEF report – The Hindu

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