The World Bank released its latest Quarterly Update on China’s economy on Friday (for disclosure's sake: I’m the lead author). At the press launch, there were a lot of questions about the recent wage hikes in several foreign-owned manufacturing companies and the possible concerns these have triggered among many about possible loss of competitiveness and/or a wage-inflation spiral.
A colleague from the Asian Development Bank visited the other day to talk about a study he is doing on Asia’s middle class. Yet this is not an area we have focused on in the World Bank’s East Asia region – perhaps at our cost. I quickly googled the topic and discovered a rapidly growing literature, including a paper each by Martin Ravallion and Nancy Birdsall
|Malaysia's New Economic Model proposes a number of strategic reforms.|
The objective of the NEM is for Malaysia to join the ranks of the high-income economies, but not at all costs. The growth process needs to be both inclusive and sustainable. Inclusive growth enables the benefits to be broadly shared across all communities. Sustainable growth augments the wealth of current generations in a way that does not come at the expense of future generations.
We just released our China Quarterly Update. For us (the economics unit in the World Bank’s Beijing office), this is a good disciplinary device to go through the data, look at what has happened, think about what the economic prospects and policy implications are, look in some more detail into some issues, and write it all down.
In addition to the usual topics, this time we focused a bit on two macro risks that have caught the attention of analysts: a property bubble and strained local government finances. In this blog I summarize our current understanding of the general economic outlook and what it means for policymaking. In a separate blog post, I will soon discuss the issues on local government finances.
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China’s economy grew 8.7 percent in 2009. This was more than the 8 percent target, despite the global recession that caused global output excluding China to fall about 3 percent. China’s growth outcome is substantially higher than projections made in early 2009. For instance, in our World Bank quarterly economic update (of which I am the lead author) we projected 6.5 percent GDP growth and some other forecasts were even lower (see Figure 1).
How did these forecasts come about, and what lessons we can draw from the experience of China’s growth in 2009? I cannot speak for my colleagues at the World Bank, let alone for other economists. But, all in all, while I have learned important lessons, I am not sure how differently I would see and do things if again presented with a situation like we were in a year ago.
As Malaysia redefines its growth strategy, the question of which sector to promote has been a subject of ongoing debate. Some have argued that the strategy should emphasize manufacturing – and preferably high-tech manufacturing – as innovation activity is most forthcoming in this sector. Others have countered that services are key, as the typical economic structure of an advanced economy is oriented towards services. Tradable services are also fast becoming an engine of growth.
The prediction season is in full swing, and prognosticators have, as usual, appended the warning that economic forecasts at this stage are subject to exceptional uncertainty. Such exceptional uncertainty is always with us when looking ahead – there is always a fork in the road, no matter what the circumstances are.
The nuance this year is that, while the recovery in East Asia will depend on prospects for the rest of the world, notably in the advanced economies, the outlook for those economies hinges on policies to address the causes of the financial crisis. Thus far, it’s clear that very little has been done to redress the regulatory issues that led to a near meltdown of the global financial system – while the rebound from the financial and economic crisis has been substantially stronger than anticipated only months earlier. And these developments explain why opinions differ on the future path of regulatory reforms and their impacts.
When I was asked to look back at Cambodia's economy in 2009 and ahead to 2010, I began to wish I had some magic tools such as this ox (although in that case, the ox was not that magical, since the 2009 harvest turned out to be quite good).