Economic growth seems to be on track and China has passed Japan as the second largest economy in the world, still stiff measures from the government are needed to avoid a second dip, warns CEIBS economy professor Wang Jianmao in CIB-magazine.
Historical statistics on economic growth have been quietly adjusted again, suggesting the economy was severely overheated just before the global financial crisis took off, showing a seriously overheated economy, writes Wang Jianmao.
The best scenario of proactive adjustment is a U-shaped process of maintaining a moderate growth rate of 7-8% during 2010-2012 and then returning to the potential growth rate of about 9% in 2013. The worst scenario of reactive adjustment is a W-shaped process of propping up double-digit growth until 2012 and then unavoidably diving for a second dip below 5% or even 4%.
The decision-makers in China should remember the lessons of reactive adjustment and hard landings of the past. China’s economy experienced full-blown overheating during 1984 and 1985, with actual growth rate significantly higher than the potential one. After attempts at cooling the economy, the growth rate dropped to 8.8% in 1986, down from 13.5% in 1985, which was similar to the recent shrink in the growth rate from 14.4% in 2007 to 10.2% in 2008 and to 9.1% in 2009. However, the adjustment efforts taken then were not seen through to the end, causing the growth rate to rebound to 11.6% in 1987 and 11.3% in 1988. Then, a second dip became unavoidable and China eventually plunged into a hard landing with a growth rate as low as 4.1% in 1989 and 3.8% in 1990.
Since China plays a prominent role in the global economy, a second dip of the Chinese economy would mean a second dip for the world. Therefore, a “slow” U-shaped recovery of the Chinese economy should be interpreted as a positive sign indicating that China is moving along the right path. A quick V-shaped recovery is only possible for those countries not severely burdened by flawed development models. Unfortunately China does not belong to this group.