Syndicate content

Macroeconomics and Economic Growth

China's stimulus plan also aims to improve quality of life

David Dollar's picture
China’s stimulus package, announced this week, focuses on more than just building up the industrial and export capacity. Some investments will also be in housing, schools, and health facilities.

China announced a massive stimulus package of 4 trillion Yuan (US$570 billion) this week, to aid its ailing economy. The move was quickly welcomed by World Bank President Robert Zoellick: "China is well positioned given its current account surplus and budget position to have fiscal expansion," said the World Bank chief at a news conference. "I am delighted that China decided not only to undertake these steps, but to announce it before the G20 summit," he added.

Basically, I think that the package is very good. It is not as big as it looks at first glance, but then the economy is not as bad as many people think. Real retail sales for October came in at 17 percent growth rate, down trivially from 18 percent in September. Exports in October were up 19.2 percent over the year before. There is definitely evidence of a slowing economy, but nothing too dramatic has happened so far. Worrying signs, such as a sharp drop in growth of electricity demand in October, suggest that heavy industry is slowing. And imports for processing have slowed to a 2-3 percent growth rate, indicating that processing exports will slow down sharply. We have said for some time that China needed to be ready with a stimulus package toward the end of 2008 as global conditions would likely lead to a slowdown, and that time has come. I see the current move as precautionary, in light of some worrisome signals, rather than as reactive to a highly deteriorated situation (as suggested in some of the Western press coverage).

Anxiety and hope in Guangdong, China

David Dollar's picture

A large number of export-oriented processing firms have already closed in Guangdong, the heart of China’s export machine. Image credit: lylevincent at Flickr under a Creative Commons license.
I visited the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong this week, the heart of China’s export machine. A large number of export-oriented processing firms have already closed in Guangdong in sectors such as toys and footwear. Of course, firms close all the time in market economies, while others start up. This churning is part of the normal cycle in a market economy and is one of the key sources of productivity growth. Less productive firms die off while the successful new firms have especially rapid productivity growth. As the global economic crisis hits China, it is hard to keep track in real time of the balance of closings and openings.

Entrepreneurs and local officials here are certainly aware that demand for China’s exports has dropped sharply, and they wonder when the global economy will pick up again. Still, at the same time I was impressed at how many see this as an opportunity for China to pursue its rebalancing agenda. These discussions took place at a workshop in Jiangmen on Investment Climate, Innovation, and Industrial Transfer. The phrase “industrial transfer” refers to the fact that the most labor-intensive activities are moving away from the highly successful coastal cities, either to inland China, or other countries (Vietnam, Bangladesh) with lower wages.

China’s growth surprises on the downside

David Dollar's picture

Although exports have slowed down, they contributed to China's GDP growth in 2008. But in this gloomy global economy, some factories will close and workers will lose jobs as it slows down further.
China’s growth rate in the third quarter fell to 9.0%, the lowest rate since the SARS crisis in 2003. Everyone expected that the global slowdown and disruption from the Olympics would take some of the froth off China’s economy. But the median forecast among specialists who follow China was 9.7%, so it is fair to say that the drop was a big surprise.

The details of the third quarter report provided some good news. Exports are slowing gradually, but still contributed to the GDP growth in 2008. Retail sales growth hit its highest level in nine years and was at 18% in real terms in September. So far, Chinese consumption is holding up. And the easing of inflation to under 5% means that the government has scope to loosen monetary and fiscal policy. The government is planning to respond to the potential for further growth declines with accelerated spending on reconstruction of the earthquake-affected areas and with infrastructure projects more generally.

On the eve of the Olympics (I) - China’s economy is humming along

David Dollar's picture

China’s growth has held up well so far in 2008 (take a look at the Bank's Quarterly Update  for more details).  Growth rate for the first half was slightly over 10%.  Recently there has been concern about the slowdown in the growth of exports: from 28% year-on-year increase in May to 18% in June.  But monthly figures are erratic, and I am more impressed t

Cambodia's Relative Peace Brings the Challenges of Growth

Stéphane Guimbert's picture

Workers scale one of the skyscrapers under construction in Cambodia.
Last Sunday, more than 8 millions Cambodians were called to vote. This is already the fourth general elections since the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement. Many – including me before I moved to our Phnom Penh office last summer – still connect Cambodia first to what we learned in history classes. The splendor of the Angkor civilization and the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime probably come on top of the list. And there is some truth to that. Angkor Wat and its neighboring temples remain magnificent. The Khmer Rouge regime has left deep stigma for the people and for the society. The Khmer Rouge tribunal is attracting a lot of international attention as well. Most landmine fields have been cleared, although there remain some in more remote areas.

But, for all this, this connection more and more misses a key fact: over the last couple of years, Cambodia has achieved a relative peace that has enabled dramatic social and economic change.


Pages