Li Keqiang

Anti-pollution drive hits China’s role as global growth engine

China is no longer seeking ‘growth at any cost’, with global implications, as I describe in my latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog A pedestrian covers up against pollution in Beijing © Bloomberg China’s President Xi Jinping faced two existential threats to Communist party rule when he took office 5 […]

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President Xi focuses on pollution, not growth, as key Party Congress nears

Imagine living in the capital city of a major country, and suffering the level of pollution shown in the above photo on a regular basis.  We used the photo in chapter 6 of Boom, Gloom and the New Normal when we highlighted how pollution was inevitably going to move up the political agenda in China. Controversial at the […]

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Chemical industry data shows reflation remains hope, not reality

Western central bankers are convinced reflation and economic growth are finally underway as a result of their $14tn stimulus programmes.  But the best leading indicator for the global economy – capacity utilisation (CU%) in the global chemical industry – is saying they are wrong.  The CU% has an 88% correlation with actual GDP growth, far […]

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“Everyone wants to be rich”: Divorces soar with land prices as China’s housing bubble enters its final stages

One thing that “everyone knows” in China’s Tier 1 cities is that property prices can never go down.  As one resident told the South China Morning Post: “The only thing I know is that buying property will not turn out to be a loss.  From several thousand yuan a square metre to more than 100,000 […]

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President Xi takes “core” leader role as China heads for political turbulence

Outside observers often imagine that China’s political structure is uniquely disciplined – unlike, say the US Republican Party, or the UK Labour Party, or indeed, political parties anywhere.  But the fact that most arguments take place behind closed doors, and aren’t reported in the state-controlled media, doesn’t mean that the arguments don’t happen. Yesterday’s announcement […]

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China’s slowdown continues as Xi “takes the pain” of reform

“What a difference a day makes“. Dinah Washington’s famous song could well be applied, with a longer timescale, to developments in China’s economy. The shape of the above chart has changed completely since it was last featured here in January 2015, as volatility has increased in China’s economy.  It shows the relationship between bank lending and […]

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China’s G20 Summit shutdown highlights risks to buying “frenzy” in commodities markets

China’s polyester industry, like many others, is already preparing to shut down ahead of September’s G20 Summit in Hangzhou, to reduce pollution levels.  The phenomenon even has its own Wikipedia page, APEC Blue, to describe the moment in November 2014 when Beijing suddenly saw blue sky for the whole of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit meeting.  It […]

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China Q1 electricity consumption up only 1% as economy slows

More and more evidence is emerging of the major slowdown now underway in China’s economy. China’s leadership have warned this would take place since they took office 2 years ago.  And they have reinforced the message in recent months with their focus on explaining the move into the New Normal and its consequences. A major interview […]

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How to survive the Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus

I was privileged to be interviewed by Merryn Somerset Webb, editor-in-chief of MoneyWeek (the UK’s best-selling financial magazine) in this week’s edition.  The interview covered a wide range of topics including the perilous state of UK house prices and some stock markets, and has prompted enormous interest amongst MoneyWeek readers. Merryn is one of the UK’s leading […]

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China’s “wasted $6.8tn” highlights its new economic direction

Can you imagine your government publishing a report that showed $6.8tn has been wasted in “ineffective investment” in the past 4 years?  That is $6.8tn, by the way, not a typo.   And it is more than Japan’s total annual GDP, or the combined annual GDP of Germany and France. No, I thought not.  I certainly cannot remember […]

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China GDP reports remain “man-made and therefore unreliable”

The blog got 54.8m results from Google when it entered the phrase “China GDP” this week.  The only problem, seemingly unrecognised by most analysts, is that China’s GDP report is a completely fictitious number, invented by the leadership each quarter to suit its own narrative. This sounds a bold statement, but it isn’t: China is the only country to […]

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Winners and losers from the end of China’s property bubble

As promised yesterday, the blog looks today at the potential Winners and Losers from President Xi Jinping’s ‘China Dream’.  It is a complete break from the policies of the previous leadership, which ended up being based on a ‘wealth effect’ created by an unsustainable property bubble. Xi’s programme is emphatically about the longer term.  There […]

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Interesting Quotes (7)

Every now and then, somebody in a senior position says something that really deserves to be noticed.  Often this is when they are in a state of Denial.  This was the case in the blog’s first post in the Interesting Quotes series, when CitiGroup CEO, Chuck Prince dismissed worries about subprime losses in August 2007, saying: […]

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China’s electricity consumption shows growth at 4.5% and slowing

There’s a lot of wishful thinking underway about China’s future growth.  All the experts who told us that its growth was ‘inevitable’ and would never end, are now having to face the issue that clearly growth is now slowing fast. Their response, of course, is to remain in Denial mode.  They imagine that a magic […]

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China’s lending problems begin to worry wider world – too late

Suddenly, people are starting to talk about China and the risks it creates for the global economy.  There is a lifecycle to the way that such issues develop in the general consciousness, as John Mauldin has observed.  And so this development suggests that we are now well along the process, as highlighted in the chart above: […]

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China’s lending bubble could now lead to zero GDP growth

China has been primarily responsible for driving global growth since the Crisis began in 2008.  Auto sales, for example, would have seen negative growth world-wide without China.  And auto manufacturing is the world’s largest manufacturing industry.  The chemical industry has been in a similar position.  Whilst China is also now responsible for nearly 50% of global […]

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From Jiang to Hu and the lost decade

President Jiang Zemin inherited a difficult economic and political situation when taking power in 1993, as did Deng in 1977 and  current president Xi last year.  Jiang had to set in motion China’s second economic cycle of the post-Mao era, or risk seeing the country fall back into poverty and the political turmoil of another Cultural Revolution. Similarly today, […]

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China focuses on the need for jobs, as Western companies reshore production

Its all about jobs.  That’s the clear message from this month’s critical Economic Plenum in China, confirming the blog’s analysis back in February 2012. Of course, there was a lot of detail about future reform plans, which will certainly help to move the country’s economy in the right direction.  But in the short-term, the key […]

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