The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has just released a report warning that economic growth worldwide is so fragile, policymakers in the top 20 economies, the so-called G20, must immediately prepare contingency plans. With repeated downgrading of its global growth forecasts, and further lowering of its projections likely, the IMF is in effect warning that the world stands on the precipice of a new global recession. It is urging policymakers in major sovereigns to prepare for future fiscal pump priming as a last measure to prevent further demand destruction.
Not surprisingly, the IMF report identifies two primary drivers of the underlying fragility of the global economy: China’s slowing economic growth combined with turmoil in her equity markets and the collapse of the benchmark price of oil, inflicting massive fiscal turmoil on the world’s leading petroleum exporting nations. These factors have decimated global commodities and equities and have sown panic in financial markets across the globe.
Is this a repeat of the period just before the onset of the global economic and financial crisis of 2008, or perhaps something different, and even more ominous? Time will tell.
DONALD TRUMP or HILLARY CLINTON — Who Will Be Elected the 45th President of the United States in 2016?
Available on Amazon Kindle – – HILLARY CLINTON VERSUS DONALD TRUMP
The figures for China’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for November registered a mere 49 points, according to the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing. This figure represents a contraction in the crucial Chinese manufacturing sector. It has been due to its role as factory to the world that China’s GDP has been propelled to the second largest in the world. The latest PMI has been amplified by a similar index compiled by HSBC, which is also reporting a contraction in the industrial sector. This dismal news on the supposedly rapidly growing Chinese economy is being attributed to a decrease in exports to the Eurozone countries, now mired in an ever-worsening sovereign debt crisis. The data on China’s PMI is the worst since February 2009, at the tail-end of the free fall contraction in the global economy after the onset of the global economic crisis in the fall of 2008.
How worried should one be about the industrial contraction in China? Many observers have already pointed out that China’s rapid growth at a time of economic decline and stagnation among advanced economies was in large part artificially induced by massive government spending, in particular on uninhabited apartment complexes and unoccupied shopping malls. But more importantly, how worried is China about the economic health of its largest customers, in both the Euozone/UK region and the United States? This is what Chinese Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said about the current global economic crisis: “The current global crisis may be in some way more severe and challenging than that of 2008 after the collapse of Lehman Brothers.”
The Chinese political leadership is clearly worried about the spillover effects of the Eurozone debt crisis on China. This has led to some radical about-turns in economic policymaking. Concerns about inflation and banks with a significant portfolio of bad loans have been discarded. The authorities in Beijing are again focused on growth at all costs, involving the loosening of monetary policies and requirements on Chinese banks for minimal provision for reserves against bad loans. However, with a much smaller proportion of its economy driven by domestic consumption compared to the Eurozone, U.K. and U.S., there is only so much the government can do to induce growth at a time of stagnation or contraction of its exports to its largest customers. In the final analysis, China cannot go on indefinitely building uninhabited cities as a means of creating “growth” in its GDP.
Despite all the talk in economic circles about the large economies in East Asia being “decoupled” from the advanced economies in Europe and North America, China is as much a prisoner of the impact of the Eurozone debt crisis as is America-just as Europe and China were prisoners of the subprime mortgage meltdown in the United States. In our integrated global economy, no one is immune to the effects of a legacy of bad economic and fiscal policymaking in Washington and Brussels, least of all Beijing.
Officer Larry of the NYPD is on his way to Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan to arrest peaceful protesters involved with the Occupy Wall Street movement. Being a public spirited member of the New York Police Department, Officer Larry does remind us that there is a global economic crisis underway that rivals the Great Depression of the 1930s.
For the first time since 2004, China incurred a net trade deficit totalling more than $7 billion in March. China’s Statistics Department maintains that the primary drivers of the deficit were surging imports of industrial commodities, including oil and minerals. In addition, certain consumer durables, including automobiles, also encountered increased demand from China’s domestic market.
The authorities in Beijing believe that the March trade deficit was an anomaly, and that China will return to a net surplus in its international trade. However, the March trade deficit does strengthen the case of those in the Chinese leadership who believe their country should take an inflexible stand in negotiations with Washington on the exchange rate of the national currency, the yuan or renminbi. It is likely that China will be even more determined to resist U.S. pressure to allow the value of the renminbi to appreciate. This sets the stage for increased tension between Washington and Beijing over fundamental issues that will determine the trajectory of the ongoing global economic crisis.