The recent slowdown in China’s economic growth has pulled down many markets. But economic analyst Arthur Kroeber argues in a recent paper for the Brookings institute that China is still offering a huge potential, if it can really reform its financial systems.
China still has potential for another decade of relatively high speed growth, but a combination of structural factors means that “high speed” in future likely means a trend GDP growth rate of around 7%, well below the historic average of 10%. Moreover, a combination of negative trends in demographics and the external sector, and the need to constrain credit growth after the enormous credit expansion of 2008-2010, mean the obstacles to realizing this potential growth rate are quite large. In order to overcome these obstacles, the efficiency of credit, and of capital more generally, must be improved. A large increase in credit efficiency was achieved in the previous economic deleveraging episode of 2003-08, but that increase in efficiency resulted mainly from an acceleration in GDP growth due to capital deepening, rather than from a constraint on credit. Over the next several years, the best that can plausibly be achieved is a stabilization of nominal GDP growth at approximately the current level. Any increase in credit efficiency must therefore come from a constraint on credit growth and direct improvements in credit allocation, rather than from capital-intensive economic growth.
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