Articles By: Michael Pettis

Michael Pettis

Michael Pettis is a Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a finance professor at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management, where he specializes in Chinese financial markets. Pettis has worked on Wall Street in trading, capital markets, and corporate finance since 1987. Pettis is a member of the Institute of Latin American Studies Advisory Board at Columbia University as well as the Dean’s Advisory Board at the School of Public and International Affairs. He received an MBA in Finance in 1984 and an MIA in Development Economics in 1981, both from Columbia University. He writes the blog .

Here are my most recent posts

Economic consequences of income inequality

Economic consequences of income inequality

This is a loaded topic. This entry, however, is not intended to be political. Very few things in economics are good or bad in themselves, but rather can be good under certain conditions or bad under others. I want to try to tease out as logically as I can the conditions under which rising income inequality can be good or bad for the economy.

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Will emerging markets come back?

Will emerging markets come back?

By Michael Pettis I don’t often make reference to these kinds of things in my blog, but Saturday’s terrorist attack in the Kunming train station – in which 29 innocent people were hacked to death (the toll was especially high among the elderly who were unable to run away quickly enough from the killers) – fills me with dread and […]

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What do bank share prices tell us about growth?

What do bank share prices tell us about growth?

Owning shares in a bank is the functional equivalent of owning a call option on the bank’s future operational earnings, and if the share price contains little intrinsic value (i.e. the value of its assets does not exceed the value of its liabilities by a large margin, and may even be less than the value of liabilities), by definition most of its value consists of time value, and so is extremely sensitive to changes in expectations.

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The impact of reform on growth in China

The impact of reform on growth in China

I got a lot of feedback from my January 5 blog entry because of my argument that the implementation of the reforms proposed in the Third Plenum all but guarantees that growth rates in China will slow down. For that reason I thought it might make sense for me to explain a little more carefully why I think this must happen, and why I think that we can almost judge how successfully the reforms are implemented by how quickly growth slows.

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Will the reforms speed growth in China?

Will the reforms speed growth in China?

Although still vague on the specifics, China’s Third Plenum November partially clarified the nature of the reforms that Beijing is proposing for China over the coming year. Of course very little was said in any of the related releases about the difficulties, of which the most important are likely to be political, in implementing these reforms, nor did we hear – not unsurprisingly, I think – much about what specific steps Beijing will take to address these difficulties. What has been surprising to me is that many analysts – some of whom, but not all, recognize how difficult implementation is likely to be – expect that the reforms will unleash such a burst of productivity that growth rates in China will be maintained or even raised from the current GDP growth target of 7.5%.

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Monetary policy under financial repression

Monetary policy under financial repression

In order to understand much of what is happening in China it is important to understand how financial systems operate under condition of financial repression. Because most of what we know about economics is derived from economists whose operating environment is the classical “anglo-saxon” economies, we underrate important economists that don’t follow this tradition, like the German Freidrich List or the American Albert O. Hirschman. And it leads us into mistaken assumptions, like the belief that higher interest rates lead automatically to higher savings rates.

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The politics of adjustment

The politics of adjustment

China is not the first country to have experienced a long period of miraculous growth. But the most difficult part of growth miracles has not been the growth miracle itself but rather the subsequent adjustment.

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When are markets “rational”?

When are markets “rational”?

To me, much of the argument about whether or not markets are efficient misses the point. There are conditions, it seems, under which markets seem to do a great job of managing risk, keeping the cost of capital reasonable, and allocating capital to its most productive use, and there are times when clearly this does not happen. The interesting question, in that case, becomes what are the conditions under which the former seems to occur.

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Will debt derail Abenomics?

Will debt derail Abenomics?

debt matters, even if it is possible to pretend for many years that it doesn’t (and this pretense was made possible by the implicit capitalization of debt-servicing costs). Japan never really wrote down all or even most of its investment misallocation of the 1980s and simply rolled it forward in the form of rising government debt. For a long time it was able to service this growing debt burden by keeping interest rates very low as a response to very slow growth and by effectively capitalizing interest payments, but if Abenomics is “successful”, ironically, it will no longer be able to play this game.

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Hidden debt must still be repaid

Hidden debt must still be repaid

Five or six years ago, a few skeptics first started pointing out that the credit dynamics underlying Chinese growth was creating an unsustainable increase in debt. This, they warned, would ultimately undermine the banking system and cause growth to collapse if it were not addressed in time.

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Revisiting predictions from 2011 on China and Europe

Revisiting predictions from 2011 on China and Europe

It is still too early for all of these predictions either to have materialized or to have failed, but I thought it might be useful to review them to see whether or not they have been reasonably accurate in describing unfolding events and, if not, how my model for thinking about global imbalances should be revised. My reason for doing this is not so much to keep score but rather that these predictions were almost necessary or logical outcomes of the savings imbalance model I implicitly use to understand the world, and so to the extent that my model is valid it should show up in the evolution of these predictions.

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China: Rebalancing and long term growth

China: Rebalancing and long term growth

As analysts and official entities like the World Bank continue to downgrade their forecasts for medium-term growth in China, I have been asked increasingly often for the reasons I believe that 3-4% average annual growth rates is likely to be the upper limit for China during the adjustment period. In this blog entry I want to explain how I arrived at my numbers.

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