Blog Post

Three good reasons to be bullish on China in 2015

Back at the start of the decade, I made certain assumptions about how the so-called BRIC economies -- Brazil, Russia, India and China -- would perform in the 10 years ahead. Five years on, China is the only one of the four to have either met or possibly slightly surpassed my expectations. 

By: Date: January 9, 2015 Topic: Global economy and trade

China is poised to drastically enlarge its role in the world.

Halfway through a decade in which China set out to rebalance its economy, it is poised to drastically enlarge its role in the world. Let me explain why.

Back at the start of the decade, I made certain assumptions about how the so-called BRIC economies — Brazil, Russia, India and China — would perform in the 10 years ahead. Five years on, China is the only one of the four to have either met or possibly slightly surpassed my expectations. Assuming that China’s soon- to-be-published fourth-quarter gross domestic product number will come in at or close to 7.3 percent, as many experts assume, then from 2011 to 2014, China will have averaged real GDP growth of just less than 8 percent. I had assumed it would be 7.5 percent for the full decade (as did Chinese leaders back in 2011), and China could achieve this if its economy continues to grow by 7 percent for the next five years.

If so, it will have become a $10 trillion economy in current nominal U.S. dollars, well more than half the size of the U.S. (probably even bigger, adjusting for purchasing power), twice the size of Japan, bigger than Germany, France and Italy put together and not far off one and half times the size of the other three BRIC economies put together.

Brazil and Russia, for their part, have significantly disappointed my expectations. Indeed, their economic performance supports skeptics of their long-term potential, who attributed earlier growth primarily to high commodity prices. India also disappointed, but its growth rate accelerated in 2014. With the election of Narendra Modi as prime minister and the large drop in oil prices, India still has an outside chance of meeting my expectations for the full decade. It could even grow more than China in the second half.

Many international commentators remain bearish about China, expecting real GDP growth to slip significantly below 7 percent.

The reasons cited usually involve some combination of excessive debt, inefficient lending, weaker export markets and consumers’ ongoing inability to play a bigger role in the economy. All of these things are relevant, but they are challenges that Chinese policy makers are familiar with and seem eager to overcome.

For the past few months, the Shanghai index has been the top-performing market.

What has become especially intriguing, in contrast to this pessimism, is how strongly Chinese equity markets have performed since early November. For the past few months, the Shanghai index has been the top-performing market. What happened to all those claims that Chinese equities never rise? The eternal bears now say the Chinese market is an unsustainable bubble and/or that local buyers have been essentially press-ganged into buying equities in order to make the economy look good. Perhaps illiquidity is playing some role, but it seems unlikely to be much of the story.

I can think of at least three basic reasons to be bullish on China: First, the collapse of crude oil prices will boost consumers’ real incomes, helping them play a larger role in the economy.

Even though property prices have recently stalled, China will probably avoid a serious credit crunch

Second, even though property prices have recently stalled and begun to fall, China will probably avoid a serious credit crunch, partly because Chinese policy makers have been more serious about restraining prices before they can collapse.
Moreover, the price decline has made real estate affordable for more Chinese.

A third reason to be optimistic is the subdued nature of inflation in China. This allows for more accommodative monetary policy going forward.

Taken together, these factors will make it easier for China to rebalance its economy — by raising wages, increasing property-ownership rights for urban migrants and reforming pension systems.

In 2016, when China — with its economy growing at 6 to 7 percent — chairs the Group of 20 nations, it can do so as a fully engaged member of the global economy.

This article originally appeared in Bloomberg View.

Read more:

China seeking to cash in on Europe’s crises

Financial openness of China and India: Implications for capital account liberalisation


Republishing and referencing

Bruegel considers itself a public good and takes no institutional standpoint. Anyone is free to republish and/or quote this post without prior consent. Please provide a full reference, clearly stating Bruegel and the relevant author as the source, and include a prominent hyperlink to the original post.

Read about event More on this topic
 

Upcoming Event

May
18
14:30

Is China’s private sector advancing or retreating?

A look into the Chinese private sector.

Speakers: Reinhard Bütikofer, Nicolas Véron and Alicia García-Herrero Topic: Global economy and trade Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Podcast

Podcast

The cost of China's dynamic zero-COVID policy

What does zero-COVID mean for both China and the global economy?

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Global economy and trade Date: May 11, 2022
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

From viruses to wars: recent disruptions to global trade and value chains

How have events in recent years impacted global trade and value chains and how can we strengthen these against future disruptions?

Speakers: Dalia Marin, Adil Mohommad and André Sapir Topic: Global economy and trade Date: April 27, 2022
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Opinion

China’s Covid policy to be year’s largest economic shock

Beijing’s ‘dynamic zero-Covid’ policy could devastate the domestic economy, but the effects will also be felt globally.

By: Alicia García-Herrero Topic: Global economy and trade Date: April 26, 2022
Read article More by this author
 

Podcast

Podcast

What to expect from China's innovation drive?

How much has China progressed technologically?

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Digital economy and innovation, Global economy and trade Date: April 6, 2022
Read article More on this topic
 

Blog Post

Is the private sector retreating in China? Not among its largest companies

Though private ownership does not free companies from the pervasive influence of the Communist Party, China’s private and state sectors are not equivalent; China’s largest firms are growing faster than their state-owned counterparts.

By: Tianlei Huang and Nicolas Véron Topic: Global economy and trade Date: April 5, 2022
Read article Download PDF More on this topic
 

Working Paper

The private sector advances in China: The evolving ownership structures of the largest companies in the Xi Jinping era

This paper documents recent structural changes in China’s corporate landscape, based on company level data, providing a complementary perspective to that of official Chinese statistics.

By: Tianlei Huang and Nicolas Véron Topic: Global economy and trade Date: April 5, 2022
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Opinion

Early Warning Brief: China’s contorted response to Russia sanctions

The spectre of a democratic Russia aligned with the West is probably a more serious concern for Beijing than what it risks losing by supporting Russia, which is exactly why China has arrived at its contorted position on the current military conflict in Ukraine.

By: Alicia García-Herrero Topic: Global economy and trade Date: April 1, 2022
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Opinion

Rallying Chinese markets will not be a quick fix for Beijing

Top official makes rare intervention to reassure investors but progress to resolve problems will be difficult.

By: Alicia García-Herrero Topic: Global economy and trade Date: March 25, 2022
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Opinion

China can see the limits of bailing out Russia's economy

Beijing will support Moscow as long as it does not fall foul of Western sanctions.

By: Alicia García-Herrero Topic: Global economy and trade Date: March 16, 2022
Read article More on this topic
 

Blog Post

Six reasons why backstopping Russia is an increasingly unattractive option for China

China has too much to lose from aligning with Russia over Ukraine.

By: Nicolas Véron and Alan Wm. Wolff Topic: Global economy and trade Date: March 15, 2022
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Opinion

China offers Russia respite but not a solution

Beijing could provide greater assistance to its partner while benefiting from greater energy and military security, but this option is not without risk, nor for Moscow, which would become more dependent on the Asian giant.

By: Alicia García-Herrero Topic: Global economy and trade Date: March 14, 2022
Load more posts