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

Internal and external balance of savings and investment

By Michael Pettis I was recently asked by an Australian economics journal to write a review of a book I had already read, The Leaderless Economy, by Peter Temin and David Vines (published in 2013). Because the book is a great place from which to start a discussion on the links within the global economy, I decided to base this essay […]

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What multiple should we give China’s GDP growth?

What multiple should we give China’s GDP growth?

By Michael Pettis Last week Derek Scissors, a think tank analysts at the American Enterprise Institute, published an articlein which he referred to an October, 2014, study by Credit Suisse that attempts to measure total household wealth by region and by country. Scissors argues that in the interminable debate about whether or not China will overtake the US as the […]

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Will the AIIB ever matter?

By Michael Pettis When Isaac, an editor at Foreign Policy, sent me an email two weeks ago asking if I could write a piece on the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), I quickly wrote back promising 1,200 words within a few days. I thought it would be pretty easy to come up with the points I wanted to make, […]

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When do we decide that Europe must restructure much of its debt?

When do we decide that Europe must restructure much of its debt?

By Michael Pettis It is hard to watch the Greek drama unfold without a sense of foreboding. If it is possible for the Greek economy partially to revive in spite of its tremendous debt burden, with a lot of hard work and even more good luck we can posit scenarios that don’t involve a painful social and political breakdown, but […]

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Syriza and the French indemnity of 1871-73

Syriza and the French indemnity of 1871-73

The euro crisis is a crisis of Europe, not of European countries. It is not a conflict between Germany and Spain (and I use these two countries to represent every European country on one side or the other of the boom) about who should be deemed irresponsible, and so should absorb the enormous costs of nearly a decade of mismanagement. There was plenty of irresponsible behavior in every country, and it is absurd to think that if German and Spanish banks were pouring nearly unlimited amounts of money into countries at extremely low or even negative real interest rates, especially once these initial inflows had set off stock market and real estate booms, that there was any chance that these countries would not respond in the way every country in history, including Germany in the 1870s and in the 1920s, had responded under similar conditions.

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Interview on Chinese CPI and PPI data for December

Interview on Chinese CPI and PPI data for December

Deflationary pressures in China indicates that we probably need monetary tightening, not loosening. I know this sounds extremely counterintuitive, and so violates what we have learned about the world by assuming that the world looks a lot like the US, but there is both a logical argument behind it and what I think is overwhelming historical evidence. The convention that any economic variable that works one way in the US must work the same way in China is one of those assumptions that is implicit in so much that is written about the Chinese economy, and yet is made by foreign and Chinese economists who would indignantly reject the assumption were it ever made explicitly.

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My reading of the FT on China’s “turning away from the dollar”

My reading of the FT on China’s “turning away from the dollar”

By Michael Pettis The Financial Times ran a very interesting article last week called “China: Turning away from the dollar”. It got a lot of attention, at least among China analysts, and I was asked several times by friends and clients for my response. The authors, James Kynge and Josh Noble, begin their article by noting that we are going […]

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How might a China slowdown affect the world?

How might a China slowdown affect the world?

By Michael Pettis Two years ago it was hard to find analysts who expected average GDP growth over the rest of this decade to be less than 8%. The current consensus seems to have dropped to between 6% and 7% on average. I don’t think Beijing disagrees. After assuring us Tuesday that China’s economy – which is growing a little […]

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China, Europe, and optimal currency zones

China, Europe, and optimal currency zones

Although I think China is clearly much more integrated as an optimal currency zone than Europe is today, it is probably less integrated than the US (I will use the US and Europe as the two extreme cases between which China falls). China of course does not have the problems of multiple sovereignty and taxation that Europe does, but there are still important frictional costs among provinces and regions that exceed those among US states and regions and that may make an adjustment to slower growth bumpier than expected.

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Interview: On The Global Economy and Economics

Interview: On The Global Economy and Economics

By Michael Pettis Doug, Pancoast, an American entrepreneur living in Shanghai, asked to interview me for his blog, and I agreed to do so. I think it was meant to be a brief interview, but I began to respond on a Saturday evening, while waiting for the performance at my club to begin (my office is at my CD label, […]

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What does a “good” Chinese adjustment look like?

What does a “good” Chinese adjustment look like?

I have always thought that the soft landing/hard landing debate wholly misses the point when it comes to China’s economic prospects. It confuses the kinds of market-based adjustments we are likely to see in the US or Europe with the much more controlled process we see in China. Instead of a hard landing or a soft landing, the Chinese economy faces two very different options, and these will be largely determined by the policies Beijing chooses over the next two years.

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Bad debt cannot simply be ‘socialized’

Bad debt cannot simply be ‘socialized’

Burgeoning debt was not an unlucky accident. It is fundamental to the way the growth model works, and we have arrived at the stage, probably described most imaginatively by Hyman Minsky in his work on balance sheets, in which the system requires an acceleration in credit growth simply to maintain existing levels of economic activity. China’s debt problems, in other words, cannot be resolved administratively, by fixing the shadow banking system, by imposing discipline on borrowers, or indeed by eliminating financial repression (much of which, by the way, has already been squeezed out of the system by lower nominal GDP growth). Without a massive transfer of wealth from the state sector to the household sector it will be impossible, I would argue, for GDP growth rates of anything above 3-4% – and perhaps even less – to occur without a further unsustainable increase in debt, whether that increase occurs inside or outside the formal banking system and whether or not discipline has been imposed on borrowers.

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