Keeping Growth Rate High in China Achieved by More Misallocation of Capital

(p. A11) . . . , it is Beijing’s recent moves to ease fiscal policy that will ensure that this year’s growth target can be met. Unlike traditional Keynesian stimulus programs, which are typically conducted at the central-government level, in China fiscal easing primarily involves providing additional state-bank money to local governments.
This has a more immediate and powerful effect on GDP growth and job creation, but it comes at a high cost: overinvestment in local projects and the misallocation of capital. China’s landscape is littered with unused highways and airports, redundant steel and cement plants, unnecessary municipal office buildings and “ghost cities” filled with empty high-rises and deserted shopping malls.
From 2009-13, “ineffective investment” amounted to a stunning 41.8 trillion yuan ($6.8 trillion), according to research published in 2014 by Xu Ce of China’s National Development and Reform Commission and Wang Yuan of the Academy of Macroeconomic Research.
That China is heading down this path again can only mean that it has no other way to reach its growth target. It is also an indication of how little the economic system has changed despite the leadership’s much vaunted reform initiatives and efforts to tackle corruption at all levels of government.

For the full commentary, see:
MARK A. DEWEAVER. “Why China Will Still Reach Its Target Growth Rate; The stock market crash won’t stop Beijing from shoveling trillions into wasteful local projects.'” The Wall Street Journal (Fri., July 31, 2015): A11.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date July 30, 2015.)

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