In recent months, we have seen a precipitous drop in Chinese trade growth. This comes from both the export and the import side. What’s happening? A large part of it is wages. As I indicated two years ago in a post on the Lewis Turning Point, China has already sucked a large portion of the labour out of its countryside villages. And that has buoyed wage growth. However, while the external account is deteriorating, import growth is shrinking along with export growth. So, it is not that the Chinese are buying more stuff from abroad and foreigners are buying less in China. It’s that demand is slowing globally, even in China. Here’s the problem domestically then: malinvestment and financial repression. This article explains why.
Nouriel Roubini writes that the current “muddle through” approach to the eurozone (EZ) crisis is not a stable disequilibrium; rather, it is an unstable disequilibrium. Either the member states move from this disequilibrium toward a broader fiscal, economic and political union that resolves the fundamental problems of divergence (both economic, fiscal and in terms of competitiveness) within the union or the system will move first toward disorderly debt workouts and eventually even break-up, with weaker members departing. Over a five-year horizon, the odds of a break-up are at least one-third.
In January Steven Hansen observed that, through November, the trade deficit for manufactured goods in 2010 was the equivalent of 1.3 million workers earning the median manufacturing wage in the U.S.