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Pinning hopes on China

Written By: - Date published: 9:35 am, March 9th, 2014 - 33 comments
Categories: China, economy - Tags:

Our export-led economy is a rock-star according to those on the right. Australia kept us going, and now, despite the EU still spluttering, we can fly because China will buy all our milk powder.  Which we can keep making more of without destroying our ‘clean green’ country somehow.

But there’s a potential flaw in putting all your eggs in one China basket, as a number of BBC stories have been revealing.

First came Robert Peston looking at the level of debt and subsidies that sustains Chinese growth since the GFC and the West buying fewer Chinese goods.

Over the past few years, China has built a new skyscraper every five days, more than 30 airports, metros in 25 cities, the three longest bridges in the world, more than 6,000 miles of high speed railway lines, 26,000 miles of motorway, and both commercial and residential property developments on a mind-boggling scale.

There’s unsustainable growth which has Chinese debt at a reputed 200% of GDP, and investment at an unheard of 50% of GDP. It’s building massive ghost cities.  The Chinese Banking sector has rapidly expanded from $10 trillion to $25 trillion in a few years – the increase is the size of the entire US commercial banking sector, built up over centuries.

The wheels must surely fall off at some point, but in the meantime, China must grow as the promise from above is wealth instead of democracy and a say.  Should that wealth fail…

Next comes Linda Yeuh, looking at the massive shadow banking sector – accounting for 20% of banking in China is unofficial (non-bank) lending – often at interest rates of up to 100%.

Even local government is borrowing as central government promised growth and infrastructure, but didn’t provide the funds to local government to fulfil it.

If you think our fall-out from Finance Companies was bad, it’ll be but a grain of sand compared to what China might be loading up.

And now, we have the first time China is letting a major company default on a Chinese bond. A solar panel firm can’t pay its interest on a 1 billion yuan bond.

Where are they headed, and will they take us with them if we’re depending on them for our exports and recovery?

33 comments on “Pinning hopes on China”

  1. Bob Square Pants 1

    Shows how much you know then.

    The govt stopped subsidizing panels. Hence the company going under. More will follow. If it shows anything, it’s that Green technology can’t stand on its own two feet.

    This is where all our panels come from, so that kinda fucks the Greens solar argument.

    This has been in the works for some time. Glad you are finally catching up.

  2. adam 2

    Gotta love China – so this is going to be economic warfare 101? Or a real fubar realisation that capitalism is really a screwed up system? Maybe we can all grin and start again, once China fall’s over and scuttles the whole damn lot.

    • Tim 2.1

      “Maybe we can all grin and start again” ……
      Not a question of maybe! Unsustainable debt built on unsustainable growth (or maybe that’s the other way round). Either way, 3 finger salute – or as that Clinton lady once put it – we want to push the ‘reset’ button (in relation to Russia).
      Btw ….. it’s becoming fashionable for some to be concerned with income inequality. For those fashionistas – they at least have a basic understanding of mathematics and haven’t yet lost sight of the realities of people living together in a (dare I say it!) collective, or a community, or a city, or a “nation” even”.
      “Them Natives are getting restless” and it’s either mutually assured destruction, or the realisation that debt was built on a firm foundation of solid bullshit anyway.
      …. wooden wanna be in THEIR shoes – DERP!
      (Or maybe they’re hoping to take it with them into a Colin Craig style ‘afterlife’. All it would take is for the STUFF website to come out with the headline “Scientists say Second Life is Real”).
      Bah ….. Baaaaaahaahhhaa, Baaahaahah!

  3. geoff 3

    Where are they headed, and will they take us with them if we’re depending on them for our exports and recovery?

    Who do you mean by ‘us’ and ‘we’re’?

  4. RedLogix 5

    As long as the CCP retains it’s totalitarian grip on China it will continue to print credit and expand at 7% pa. They are in excess of 20% of the world economy now, by around 2030 they will account for about 60 – 70 % of global GDP.

    They still have around 800m peasants. China can add a fresh 20m skilled workforce into their economy each and every year for the next 40 years.

    And as long as China is allowed to fix it’s currency at a fraction of it’s real value (and ask yourself why this is when every other trading nation must float) this effectively unlimited slave labour force will destroy every other job in the world. Already it is getting hard to buy some categories of things that are not made in China.

    They have been very clever in allowing their shadow banking system to grow so very rapidly, but at the same time no one bank is large enough to damage the entire system. A few weeks ago the shadow bank system collapsed in one large city – the local govt just bailed it out and hardly anyone outside of China noticed.

    Chinese capital is on a massive spending spree throughout the world, buying up real-estate, resources and productive capacity. They’ve learnt well from the capitalist west that it’s smart to export the dirtiest, filthiest jobs out from your homeland and under the guise of various FTA’s will export millions of workers offshore. It’s the most massive economic colonisation program in all history. Absolutely the China is suffering dire environmental blowback in the homeland at present – but this is only a temporary phase. A growing and increasingly sophisticated middle-class will not tolerate environmental degradation indefinitely.

    At the same time their military budget is now $200b and ramping up rapidly. They will overmatch the USA by 2020.

    Within 20 years China will be the dominant player in the world. That fact is indisputable anyone who imagines that they will somehow stall or collapse is deluding themselves. The open question is going to be exactly how that dominance plays out.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      It’s not that the things you’ve said are not true, RL, it’s that you’ve not mentioned the pressures of certain very tough constraints that China is now running up against.

      China has massive demographic problems, social/political unrest, economic imbalances (eg services vs manufacturing sector imbalance), graft and environmental degradation.

      For instance, the consequences of the one child policy means that China’s population over 60 is going to massively increase over the next 30 years. IMO that alone will sink the more optimistic growth projections for China.

      • RedLogix 5.1.1

        China has massive demographic problems, social/political unrest, economic imbalances (eg services vs manufacturing sector imbalance), graft and environmental degradation.

        The point is that the CCP has the capacity to solve them. These people are not afraid of thinking big and planning for the long-term because they have the certainty that they will be around for the long-haul.

        Contrast this with Washington which is now effectively a dead-locked zombie. It is no longer controversial to suggest that the Western experiment with party political democracy has failed. At the same time a one-party totalitarian regime in China is proving wildly successful, in the face of considerable odds. This is an irony very few people in the West are willing to say out loud.

        Given this track-record I’m willing to place odds on the CCP overcoming the challenges you list as well. They are real, they are massive – but China has the capacity to respond where the rest of the world does not.

        • Colonial Viper 5.1.1.1

          Yeah, there is that. You could see it around the time of the Beijing Olympics. Smog free skies needed for the Opening Ceremony? No problem, we’ll just close all local industry, furnaces and coal fired power plants down for the entire week before.

  5. Colonial Viper 6

    Ben, I agree that massive Chinese credit creation and an over-reliance on the Chinese manufacturing industry (which for instance cannot produce trains which match the quality of what NZ WAS capable of making) is a real problem for this small country of ours.

    But as far as I can see, no NZ political party has been willing to make that very simple statement – that we need to re-localise and re-onshore NZ industries, and that we cannot continue to rely on “export driven growth” as if it was still the resource rich 1960’s and 1970’s. Markets like China, the EU, the USA and even now Australia are slowing (and perhaps possibly on the verge of another crash).

    Resource and energy depletion is real. Climate change is real. The dominance of banks and large financial institutions over even sovereign states is real. New economic ideas are needed. And whom within our political landscape is proposing them?

    I want to understand why all our political parties seem content with trying to hoodwink the electorate with yet another few years of business as usual ‘pretend and extend’?

    • RedLogix 6.1

      (which for instance cannot produce trains which match the quality of what NZ WAS capable of making)

      When the Chinese want to do quality they are perfectly capable of it. Another decade and we will no longer mention these things.

      When I was a boy all Japanese cars were “Jap Crap”. No-one says that anymore.

      And whom within our political landscape is proposing them?

      No-one is allowed to. Look at the way Cunliffe who looks like a very modest threat to the status-quo is being cut down.

      • marty mars 6.1.1

        “When the Chinese want to do quality they are perfectly capable of it.”

        The space program supports this statement – if it needed support that is, which I think it didn’t, even though I offered support for it – go figure.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.1.2

        When I was a boy all Japanese cars were “Jap Crap”. No-one says that anymore.

        Yep, I remember that. Didn’t take long for them to be the best car makers in the world. China will go the same way.

        No-one is allowed to.

        And that is the big problem with politics in Western countries – you’re not allowed to question the orthodoxy that enriches the few at everyone else’s expense and regularly crashes the economy.

        • Colonial Viper 6.1.2.1

          The inevitable conclusion is that trying to work through mainstream political parties can only be a vanishingly small fraction of what the Left does. Building mass movements, popular organisations and logistics enabling protests and peaceful resistance will be the key.

        • Populuxe1 6.1.2.2

          Um, try questioning the orthodoxy in China that enriches the top members of the CCP and leaves millions of people in dire poverty or virtual slavery.

      • Colonial Viper 6.1.3

        BTW KiwiRail engineers and consultants were over in China monitoring the build of that rolling stock. Obviously, whatever they were doing, it wasn’t enough.

        When the Chinese want to do quality they are perfectly capable of it. Another decade and we will no longer mention these things.

        In the 1960’s the Japanese became fanatical about implementing quality control initiatives e.g. Deming process control approaches.

        Today Chinese manufacturing has learnt an even more valuable lesson: western consumers and western countries are happy to hand over large sums of money for junk.

        NZ has proven that insight yet again.

      • Murray Olsen 6.1.4

        Very true, RL. I have a friend in India who gets stuff made in China. I mentioned the problem of quality to him and he told me that, when you negotiate the deal, you also negotiate the quality. If you’re willing to pay, you get top of the line stuff. My son in law, a Chinese factory owner, claims to only make the highest quality, but then I’ve never done business with him.

        Makes me wonder exactly how the asbestos train negotiations proceeded. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall.

  6. Draco T Bastard 7

    The real problem is that we keep pinning our hopes on export rather than building up our own economy. Produce everything we need here in NZ and we’re not susceptible to outside economic disasters.

  7. I have been predicting the demise of China as the result of the demise of the US for about 8 years now.

    The US Consumers until recently spend about $ 7 trillion annually. The Chinese about $1 trillion.

    The US is collapsing at a staggering but entirely predictable speed with shops closing by the thousands. Chinese billionaires and corrupt party officials are leaving the country and are buying huge amounts of real estate globally to get their loot out of China.
    In London for example entire condo buildings are build and marketed exclusively to the Chinese.

    Chinese companies are channel stuffing to keep the pretense up and they keep building entire cities where nobody lives to keep their economy going and they are printing a cob smacking $ 250 billion or so a month. It is unsustainable and ridiculous. Without the US as their biggest customer and the rest of the worlds economies tanking as the result of banker fraud and fiat currencies there is no way the <ahref=”http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/03/chinese-economy-crashing.html”>Chinese can keep this going. Nobody can!

    • RedLogix 8.1

      No. Everyone who is predicting the demise of China is applying the kind of thinking that is applicable in the West.

      China is completely different. The CCP can do whatever it wants – politically and economically.

      • travellerev 8.1.1

        They can do anything they want but they cannot break the laws of nature or practice Witchcraft/Magic.

        Contrary to the West people there do actually get arrested for corruption and convicted to death too. Apparently this worries the überrich and apparatchiks alike to the point where they actually leave en masse with their stolen loot. A billion angry people can be pushed only so far even by what you apparently think is of Godlike strength but in fact of course is merely a very small group of elitist scumbags.

  8. dave 9

    we are 400 percent of GDP in Debt. private debt is a basket case and Shonkey is making sure the government books are looted as well 1984 all over again I just have a feeling inside when labour and green get to see the books there going to be cooked to the Max by billy bob English

    • Yep, let’s start with the $112 billion in CDF and other derivatives!

    • aerobubble 9.2

      Key is a banker, Key knows inflation wipes out debt, it therefore follows that the world needs a massive round of inflation to wipe the debt back to something manageable. If anything Key hasn’t gone far enough and used debt to build infrastructure, swimming pools, etc, etc. As after the bout of global inflation its will be much more expense to build.

      Inevitably the cycle turns and we need a high spending high taxing government. How else are a generation of right wing idiots supposed to claim governments should not tax and spend unless we have a bout of it from time to time to make it a realistic proposition. And when is the best time, well NOW! in a debt binge waiting on massive inflationary reset.

  9. Ad 10

    Ben what did you make of Laim Dann’s much more positive article on the same topic today.

    Personally China looks like New Zealand’s substitute for an economic development policy. And seems to be working almost as well.

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    Andrew Little has reinstated Carmel Sepuloni as Labour’s Social Development spokesperson following the sentencing of her mother in the New Plymouth District Court today. “It has been a tough time for Carmel, but we both agreed it was appropriate she… ...
    1 day ago
  • Government taking Kiwis for April Fools
    Many Kiwis will be wondering if the joke is on them when a raft of Government changes come into effect tomorrow, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “First is ACC and National’s unwillingness to end its rort of Kiwi businesses which… ...
    1 day ago
  • Time to show RMA housing affordability plans
    Labour is challenging the Government to reveal its plans to make housing more affordable through amending the Resource Management Act, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Labour remains willing to consider the proposals on housing affordability on their merits and… ...
    1 day ago
  • John Key now admits no broad support for RMA changes
    John Key has now been forced to admit that he never had the broad political support to gut the Resource Management Act, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson Megan Woods. “Cornerstone legislation such as the RMA should never be changed without genuine… ...
    2 days ago
  • National’s changes leave student bodies in chaos
    The chaos created by National’s scrapping of compulsory student association membership may force the 86-year old Union of Students Association to fold, Labour’s Tertiary Education spokesperson David Cunliffe says. “National’s 2011 Voluntary Student Membership Act has left student associations with… ...
    2 days ago
  • Tragedy must be impetus for better training
    The Police Minister needs to explain why unsworn and inadequately trained custody officers were put in a situation of caring for a medically unwell prisoner on a busy Saturday night, Labour’s Police spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. Commenting on an IPCA… ...
    5 days ago
  • Government must be more transparent on investor state clauses
    The Government must be more transparent around the draft investor state dispute settlements in the TPPA, says David Parker, Labour’s Export Growth and Trade spokesperson. “Labour is pro trade, and is proud of the FTA we negotiated with China, which… ...
    5 days ago
  • Protect university staff and student voices
    The Green Party believes ensuring student and staff representation on university councils is important. National recently passed a law reducing the size of university governance councils while increasing the proportion of the members nominated by, guess who… Steven Joyce. The… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    6 days ago
  • C’mon Nick what’s the truth on the RMA
     “Nick Smith has got to fess up and tell us what is happening to his much vaunted RMA reform, Labour’s Environment spokesperson Megan Woods says.  “With just a day and a half to go before the polls open in Northland,… ...
    6 days ago
  • SSC salaries sink National’s spending spin
    Massive pay rises at the State Services Commission prove National’s claims of clamping down on spending in the public sector are simply fantasy, Labour’s State Services spokesman Kris Faafoi says. “Salaries in this one department are almost $70,000 more than… ...
    6 days ago
  • We can fix Christchurch and keep our assets
    The Christchurch City Council is seeking public feedback on its proposed 10 year plan for Council revenue and spending. This is probably one of the most significant 10 year plans ever to be written by a local council because of… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    6 days ago
  • Epidemic of serious assaults in our prisons
    Labour wants stab proof vests and pepper spray for all corrections officers to keep them safe from the epidemic of serious prison assaults that are occurring around the country’s jails, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis.  “There have been five… ...
    6 days ago
  • Listen to the locals Hekia!
    Minister Hekia Parata needs to understand what consultation is, Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson says. “It means you have to listen to what people say in their submissions and then be able to demonstrate you have considered their views when… ...
    1 week ago
  • Thanking our caregivers
    Let’s celebrate and thank our caregivers. This week is caregivers’ week. It’s a chance to acknowledge the thousands of women, and occasional other person, who are caring for the elderly and disabled in our country. They hold people’s lives in… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • Mana Post shop the best outcome for community
    Labour MP for Mana Kris Faafoi has welcomed the move to place the services from the Mana Post shop to a local small business. “This is the best outcome for the community we could ask for. All the vital services… ...
    1 week ago
  • Roundup: UN finds it “probably” causes cancer
    At last the UN has spoken out against the widely-used weedkiller Roundup. The UN’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has identified glyphosate, the principle ingredient in Roundup, as a probable carcinogen. They also include as probable carcinogens the insecticides&hellip; ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    1 week ago
  • World water day: eight rivers in one day
    Our photo journey started by the Waioweka (also known as Waioeka) River which flows from Te Urewera to Opotiki, and is surrounded by beautiful forest. The water looked great! Kopeopeo Canal It contrasted greatly with the Kopeopeo Canal near Whakatane,… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • We all benefit when education meets everyone’s needs
    As Dyslexia week comes to a close,  Dyslexia NZ have reminded us that around 10% of our citizens are dyslexic and are entitled to better support. One of their strongest arguments is that failure to provide identification and support for… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • Big change starts small
    Today marks Race Relations Day in New Zealand. Race Relations Day coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  The United Nations General Assembly chose this day as it marks the day in 1960 when 69 peaceful… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Israel, Palestine and the question of statehood
    The knife-edge election in Israel complicates the Middle East situation, even more than usual. The Prime Minister-elect, Binyamin Netanyahu, is moving to form a government. Netanyahu has indicated that, during his term, a Palestinian state would not be established. That… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Christchurch transport goes backwards
    The Green Party has a vision of a liveable, accessible Christchurch with a sense of identity and strong connected communities. Instead, 2013 census figures released by Statistics New Zealand reveal a fractured community, and tell a story of frustrated Christchurch commuters… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Super Fund should divest $140 million in high risk coal
    The Green Party is calling on the New Zealand Super Fund to divest their $140 million investment in coal companies that are vulnerable to becoming financially stranded according to a damning new report from Oxford University. The Smith School of… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Learn to count with Mark Osborne: 0 + 1 = ?
    The adage about the first casualty of war being truth is one that might often be applied to the political battle for hearts and minds, and of course votes. A rather unfortunate example of this has been arriving in the… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Is it still a safety net when the holes are this big?
    Over the last few weeks I’ve been wondering how safe our income support system is for people, especially those with cognitive or learning disabilities. I’ve been trying to support a young man who was severely injured in a workplace accident… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Pasifika – protecting the Pacific needed now more than ever.
    Over the weekend thousands of Aucklanders flocked to celebrate our city’s diverse Pacific communities and cultures at the annual Pasifika festival and the Greens were there to join them. The Pasifika festival has been held every year for 23… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Sounds Stakeholders Seek a Sustainable Future
    It was heartening to see a large number of people who care about the Marlborough Sounds come together at the Marlborough Marine Futures’ forum in Picton on March 8. Fellow Green MP Steffan Browning, who lives in Marlborough, and I… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    3 weeks ago

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