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A remarkably stable outlook for China

Louis Kuijs's picture

As we were wrapping up the work on our new China Quarterly Update (of which I am the main author), looking at our main conclusions and messages on economic developments in China, prospects, and the key policy challenges and tasks, I noticed that, despite lots of new data and all the headlines about changes, likely changes and risks, our overall conclusions and views have not changed all that much since June, when we released the last one. Noticing this was sobering but also somehow comforting.

China grew faster than its target and most projections in 2009 – what are the key takeaways?

Louis Kuijs's picture
Click image to enlarge.

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.

In Thailand, finding the way back into growth: Step 1, switch the supply chains back on

Frederico Gil Sander's picture

As part of its regular monitoring of the corporate sector in Southeast Asia, the World Bank economic team I am part of in Thailand has been working on a short case study of supply chains of Japanese multinational companies (MNCs) in the electrical and electronics (E&E) industry. We wanted to hear directly from firms about how the crisis affected them, how they were able to adjust so quickly to the drop in demand, what the rebound looked like, and what were the prospects going forward to upgrade along the value chain. I have learned a great deal from these interviews, and have become convinced that supply chains are central to understanding the current crisis in Thailand and East Asia more generally.

Some facts: the crisis had a disproportionate impact on manufacturing. In Thailand, manufacturing represents about 40 percent of GDP, but contractions in manufacturing value added have accounted for about 75 percent of the contraction of headline GDP. Within manufacturing, the auto and E&E industries account for the bulk of the contraction. Most of the output in those industries is exported, and more than three-fourths of the decline in Thai exports during the crisis was due to falls in shipments from the auto and E&E industries. My conclusion is that the magnitude of the crisis in Thailand has been driven primarily by these two industries.

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).

Do not worry about inflation in China for now, worry about asset prices and quality

Louis Kuijs's picture

As China’s economy seems to be recovering, many people here have expressed concerns about inflation. I was able to air my views on the subject in an Op-Ed in China’s main English language newspaper, the China Daily, together with two other experts.

China's import surge: standard economic theory prevails

Louis Kuijs's picture

When China’s government started to work on and implement its massive stimulus program in November last year in light of a rapid deterioration of the world economy, economists working on China had to work out what it all meant for

Regional roundup: Finance in East Asia - Jul. 10

James Seward's picture

This is the latest installment of the regional round-up and it has been a while.  However, there has not been much groundbreaking news related to the financial crisis to report, with a few exceptions (more to come later). 

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