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China’s End of Exuberance

By A. Michael Spence

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With significant elements of the global economy and external demand facing headwinds, China’s acceptance (so far) of a growth slowdown, while its new growth engines kick in, is a good sign, in my view.

China’s growth has slowed considerably since 2010, and it may slow even more – a prospect that is rattling investors and markets well beyond China’s borders. With many of the global economy’s traditional growth engines – like the United States – stuck in low gear, China’s performance has become increasingly important.

But now growth rates for Chinese exports and related indices in manufacturing have fallen, largely owing to weak external demand, especially in Europe. And the Chinese authorities are now scaling back the other major driver of their country’s growth, public-sector investment, as low-return projects seem to generate aggregate demand but prove unsustainable fairly quickly.

The government is using a variety of instruments, including financial-sector credit discipline, to rein in investment demand. Essentially, the government guarantee associated with financing public-sector investment is being withdrawn – as it should be.

Read full article as published in Project Syndicate

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A. Michael Spence is the William R. Berkley Professor in Economics & Business.