China is not yet number one
Jeffrey Frankel 09 May 2014
Many claim that China will soon overtake the US. This column argues that this claim is based on a misuse of statistics. ICP price data is necessary to compare living standards, since a dollar’s worth of yuan buys more in China than a dollar buys in the US. But the fact that rice and clothes are cheap in rural China does not make the Chinese economy larger. What matters for size in the world economy is how much a yuan can buy on world markets. Using the correct prices, the US remains the world’s largest economic power by a substantial margin.
Widespread recent reports have trumpeted: “China to overtake US as top economic power this year.” The claim is basically wrong. The US remains the world’s largest economic power by a substantial margin.
US, China, purchasing power parity, statistics
Increased export performance and competitiveness of developing countries is mainly a China story
M. Ataman Aksoy, Francis Ng 03 May 2014
Developing countries gained significant market shares in both industrial and developing countries throughout the 1990s and 2000s. This column highlights that China accounts for more than 70% of market share gains by developing countries in both industrial and developing countries during the 2000s. Recent increases in the industrial capabilities and competitiveness of developing countries can thus be considered predominantly a Chinese affair.
One of the important developments of the last couple of decades has been the rapid expansion of manufacturing exports from developing countries to high-income industrial countries, as well as to other developing countries. Developing economies have also gained significant market share in both major industrial countries and in each other’s markets during this period (Aksoy and Ng 2013a, 2013b).
China, market shares, south-south trade
China’s regional and bilateral trade agreements
John Whalley, Chunding Li 05 March 2014
After joining the WTO in 2001, China has entered into a number of trade agreements. Those currently in consideration are substantially larger than the initial ones. China, more than any other large economy, needs to attempt to enhance its export growth, which has turned negative in 2013. This column discusses some of China’s trade agreements and summarizes the implemented negotiation strategy. The impact of these trade agreements on China’s economic growth also deserves attention.
China’s efforts at international trade diplomacy did not stop with its 2001 WTO accession. China is increasingly active in her pursuit of regional trade agreements (RTAs).
China’s one-child policy and saving puzzle
Taha Choukhmane, Nicolas Coeurdacier , Keyu Jin 22 January 2014
Since China is growing rapidly, one might expect Chinese households to borrow against their future income. In fact, Chinese households save 30.5% of their income – compared to about 5% in OECD countries. This column discusses recent research linking the Chinese saving puzzle to China’s one-child policy. The savings rate of households with twins is about 6–7 percentage points lower than that of households with an only child. Demographic factors can explain an estimated 35–45% of the 20 percentage-point rise in China’s household saving rate between 1983 and 2011.
The Chinese household saving rate is high and has been rising sharply. Between 1983 and 2011, the average urban household saving rate rose by about 20 percentage points – from 10.4% to a staggeringly high level of 30.5%. This stands in sharp contrast with the low household savings rate in developed countries (about 5% in OECD economies). A fast-growing economy should in principle be borrowing against future income to bring forward consumption.
Education Gender Microeconomic regulation
China, fertility, demographics, savings, one-child policy
China's growth, stability, and use of international reserves
Joshua Aizenman, Yothin Jinjarak, Nancy P. Marion 05 January 2014
Before the financial crisis, the world economy was characterised by large and growing current account imbalances. Since the onset of the crisis, the current account imbalances of the US and China have decreased to half their pre-crisis levels. This column highlights the implications of the reduction in the current account surplus for China, and gives policy recommendations. A restructuring of the economy is needed, and reversing of policies that depress consumption and prevent real appreciation.
US, global imbalances, China, global crisis
Has China’s new labour contract law worked?
Richard B. Freeman, Xiaoying Li 22 December 2013
Formal contracts are key to enforcing workers’ rights. This column presents evidence that the Labour Contract Law improved worker outcomes in China, especially among migrant and low-wage workers. The proportion of workers with social insurance increased without any significant negative effect on the employment rate.
In 2007 China enacted a new Labour Contract Law (LCL) – the first major labour reform in over a decade. The law sought to pressure firms to give workers written contracts that would help workers enforce their legal rights at the workplace. Because local governments put economic growth and business interests above worker well-being, implementation of labour laws in China has historically been weak (Tang 2008) with the result that many workers in China suffered ill treatment by employers (Lee 2007, Chan 2001).
China, labour contracts
Housing, spatial price differences, and inequality in China
John Gibson, Chao Li 27 November 2013
Many studies find evidence of a growing income inequality in China. However, the majority of these studies may be constructing biased measures of inequality. This column presents evidence from a new study on how inequality in China is overstated if one ignores the spatial differences in the cost of living. With a booming urban housing market that displays a high degree of heterogeneity, accounting for spatial price differences is essential.
How do others measure inequality in China?
Poverty and income inequality
China, Inequality, spatial price differences, costs of living
Does policy uncertainty reduce economic activity? Insights and evidence from large trade reforms
Kyle Handley, Nuno Limão 23 November 2013
The impact of policy uncertainty on economic activity is potentially important, but controversial because it is hard to identify and quantify. Recent research provides a framework to identify the impacts of policy uncertainty on firm decisions, and finds it has strong effects in the context of international trade. China’s WTO accession secured its most-favoured nation status in the US, and the evidence shows this reduction in uncertainty can explain a significant fraction of its export boom to the US.
The impact of policy uncertainty on economic activity is an issue traditionally associated with developing countries. Since 2008, however, the spotlight has shifted. Governments’ responses to the Great Recession and the Eurozone crisis have raised considerable uncertainty about the future policies of advanced economies. Examples include the timing and size of financial bailouts, government expenditures, and the risk of sovereign-debt default. These crises have also heightened trade policy uncertainty.
US, China, WTO, trade, uncertainty, Great Recession, Eurozone crisis
The dragon awakes: Is Chinese competition policy a cause for concern?
Mario Mariniello 09 November 2013
Since the adoption of the Anti-Monopoly law in 2007, the Chinese competition authorities have stepped up enforcement of mergers and anti-competitive practices. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has relied heavily on behavioural remedies in merger cases (as opposed to the more efficient structural remedies favoured by the European Commission). Furthermore, merger policy has been used to protect domestic industries from competition. In contrast, Chinese fines for cartels have shown no foreign bias, and if anything have been too low.
Foreign businesses are increasingly realising that China has antitrust laws, and is not shy about using them. The Glencore/Xstrata merger in the spring was cleared only with conditions imposed by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. In August, the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission imposed a record €82 million fine on milk powder producers for a price-fixing conspiracy. The Chinese authorities are also taking more decisions.
China, international trade, protectionism, Competition policy, antitrust