The Economist reviews economist Arthur Kroeber´s book China’s Economy: What Everyone Needs to Know®, where he explores the options for China between collapse and success. “Between these extremes lies a wide expanse of “muddle-through” alternatives.”
CHINA’S economy inspires extreme and, often, diametrically opposed views. There is the bear case: growth is severely unbalanced, waste unbearably high and collapse nigh. And the bullish: past performance is proof of the government’s managerial skill, innovation is blossoming and China will soon surpass America as the global economic powerhouse. But between these extremes lies a wide expanse of “muddle-through” alternatives, which hold that China’s future will be far less spectacular: neither especially bright nor very gloomy.
If the notion of a middle way sounds intuitively appealing, Arthur Kroeber’s book brings rigour to the debate to show why it is also the most likely outcome. A longtime China analyst now managing an independent research firm, he launches an assault, albeit courteously worded, on conventional wisdom from the two opposing camps. What emerges is a nuanced take on an economy facing serious challenges, ones that do not spell its collapse but could prove intractable all the same.
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