Sunday, November 09, 2008

I wonder what that Chinese regulator has to say about China's "stimulus"

Several weeks ago, I mentioned a Chinese banking regulator who points at the United States' problems but ignores that China's were always far worse.

China is going to pump four trillion yuan, about U.S. $588 billion, into its economy as a "stimulus package." One of the most rapidly expanding economies needs a stimulus package, though in this year's "slump" it will still see a projected 9% growth in GDP?

Yes. Make no mistake: there may not be tens of millions starving under a "Great Leap Forward," but China's leaders are ever committed to central planning. They want to meet their production targets and will do anything they deem necessary -- easily done when the rulers are perennially well-fed, and the "proletariat" do the real work. Recall that under Chairman Mao, Chinese were so desperate to meet their metal production quotas that they would smelt the tools they needed for farming. The choice was between a near-100% probability of slow starvation or a certain 100% probability of dying in a gulag. Today's Chinese largely don't face the risk of starvation, but do not doubt for a second that the gulags aren't running today with ever greater efficiency.

You might think, well, at least China has a tremendous budget surplus to use for the stimulus. But China needs its surplus to continually add to its foreign currency reserves, particularly U.S. dollars in the form of U.S. Treasury securities, as collateral for its corruption-ridden banking system that would otherwise collapse. What it comes down to is that China is addressing only a short-lived economic condition at the expense of the underlying problem (bad loans) and its longer-term economic health -- just like the U.S. government and Federal Reserve have been concerned about quarter-on-quarter economic growth, ignoring the long-term burdens of using massive new federal debt to buy up bad securities.

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