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Financial Sector

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).

Is there a wave of bad debt on the horizon in Asia?

James Seward's picture

You may want to grab your surfboard to be prepared even though this wave may not yet be visible now.  There is little (public) focus on this question in Asia at the moment and I suspect that the reason is simple – over the past ten years we have witnessed a relatively long period of stability and rapid economic growth across Asia.  Such a situation can too easily breed complacency and high levels of risk-taking by banks, as well as a more relaxed stance by the r

Will the current financial turmoil change the financial architecture in Asia?

James Seward's picture

It has been a long time since I’ve written, but the past two months have been quite hectic for us!  I just returned from China, where we were working with the capital market supervisor, and the issue of the financial sector regulatory architecture, or how market supervisors should be organized, was a topic of discussion.  In early June, there was a conference with all of the key financial supervisors on the topic of integrated regulation and supervision,


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