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China’s food prices – why have they trended up and what lies ahead?

Louis Kuijs's picture
China’s food prices – why have they trended up and what lies ahead?

(Available in Chinese)

Food prices have received a lot of attention recently. Understandably, much of the attention is on recent developments and short term prospects. But in this blog post I try to look back at some longer term trends, in order to look further ahead.

Since the early 2000s, food related prices have trended up (Figure 1). The deflator of agricultural value added has risen 8% per year on average since 2000, after falling during the second half of the 1990s. Producer Price Index (PPI) food prices (factory gate) have risen much less because prices of other inputs into the food processing industry have gone up less and rapid productivity growth in food processing has dampened the transmission of higher raw food prices.

Private consumption in East Asia is not too low

Ivailo Izvorski's picture

According to many commentators, setting the global economy on a right path these days must include a sharp increase in private consumption in East Asia.   Consumption, these analysts argue, is very low across the region, and levels nearer those in advanced economies are more appropriate.

This does not seem right.  Consider the following points:

Nam Theun 2 – How are the resettled people doing overall? In their own words… (part 2 of 2)

Nina Fenton's picture

In the last blog we saw that most resettlers are broadly satisfied with the resettlement process and are positive and optimistic about their lives as a whole. But…how do they feel about their lives in comparison to the very different world they lived in before relocation? What are the changes they value or regret?
 

The respondents were asked directly how they felt about life now compared with life before resettlement. The overwhelming majority think that life has got much better, and that the vulnerable households are even more likely to feel this way than the non-vulnerable—no vulnerable households felt that life had got worse.

Nam Theun 2 – How are the resettled people doing overall? In their own words… (part 1 of 2)

Nina Fenton's picture

In last week’s blog I showed that, when we examine consumption—a commonly used measure of household welfare—the resettled households appear to be doing relatively well, and much better than before resettlement. But economic circumstances are just one small part of what really matters to households. In order to get closer to a broader picture of “well-being”, I’m going to present some evidence of how these households themselves view their lives overall and how they feel about the changes going on around them. I hope that this will provide new insights to the question of “how are the resettled people doing overall?”

Thailand's economy in 2010: Growth in balance

Frederico Gil Sander's picture

In the years since the 1997/1998 Asian financial crisis, the Bank of Thailand (BoT) worked hard to build a heavy fortress around the nation’s financial sector. As a result, at a time when credit markets froze in developed countries and investors “fled to quality,” large amounts of capital still flowed into Thailand, where banks remained solid and well capitalized. Despite the financial strength brought by prudent policies, for the first time since the financial crisis, Thailand will see GDP and household consumption drop, and poverty could even increase in 2009. It is clear that the financial armor was insufficient to protect the economy from another crisis.

The culprit has been identified as Thailand’s excessive reliance on external demand, and talk of “rebalancing” growth towards domestic consumption and investment has become quite common (pdf). The idea of rebalancing makes some sense – but it can also be misleading. Let me explain.

China: Robust growth in sight provides room for shift in policy focus

Louis Kuijs's picture

The economic data for the third quarter of 2009, released almost two weeks ago, confirmed an impressive recovery in China’s economy, supported by very large fiscal and monetary stimulus. Real GDP growth rose to 8.9 percent year-on-year in the third quarter. This is clearly good news, for China and many other countries whose economies are benefiting at the moment from strong demand from China. As the World Bank economic team for China (which I'm part of) argues in more detail in the new China Quarterly Update, it also means that it is time to consider a less expansionary macroeconomic policy stance and focus more on the structural reforms needed to rebalance the economy and get more growth out of the domestic economy on a sustained basis.

It’s not as if China has not been hit by the global recession. China’s real economy has been hit hard. Exports fell sharply since November last year, and the contribution of net external trade to GDP growth was minus 3.6 percent points in the first three quarters of this year – with the negative contribution particularly large in the third quarter (in year-on-year terms).

China: what long-term policies and reforms are needed to sustain growth?

Louis Kuijs's picture

In a previous blog I summarized our views on China’s growth prospects, developed while writing the World Bank’s recent China Quarterly Update economic report. We think that China is likely to continue to see respectable growth in a difficult global environment.

Can China become the engine for world economic growth?

David Dollar's picture

This somewhat provocative question was the title of a conference hosted by Oxford and Standard Charter this week in London.  My answer was: "No, not tomorrow; but yes, eventually – especially if China continues to vigorously pursue economic reform."
 
The reason that China cannot be the engine of global growth tomorrow is straight-forward.  For the last decade an awful lot of the final demand in the world has come from the U.S.  That era is over for the time being as U.S. households now concentrate on rebuilding their savings.  No one country can fill the gap left by the slowdown in U.S. consumption: Japan, Germany, and China together have less consumption than the U.S., so no one of them can replace the U.S. as the major source of demand in the world.  It's not realistic to expect China to play that role.  But we are probably moving into a more multi-polar period in which there is more balanced growth in all of the major economies. 

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