Opinion

The Great Debate

China risks overcooking the economy

Wei Gu– Wei Gu is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are her own –

While China has been outspoken in expressing concern about the United States printing too much money, those worries might be better focused at home. No country beats China when it comes to effective monetary easing.

Beijing has scrapped lending quotas, adopted a loose monetary policy and kept interest rates at a four-year low to boost liquidity and promote growth. The policy has worked. China has lent out more money in the first four months of this year than the whole of 2008. Money growth in China is up more than 25 percent this year, versus about 10 percent in the United States.  Click here for a related graph.

Beijing’s “monetary emissions” will have major consequences, and China might suffer from inflation before other countries in the world. The flood of liquidity that has been injected will almost certainly overwhelm the country’s seemingly indestructible overcapacity. History has shown that China can have inflation even during times of severe overcapacity, such as in 2008.

So far, China remains in a honeymoon period. Cheap money is sloshing about but thus far it has only generated asset price inflation — the sort of inflation that investors like. Meanwhile consumer prices are still falling — by 1.4 percent in June versus the same period last year. Factory gate prices were down 7.2 percent.

from The Great Debate UK:

Shareholder confidence vs. value investing

Brendan Woods- Brendan Wood is Chairman of Brendan Wood International, a global intelligence advisory firm. Recently, BWI published the World’s TopGun CEOs as ranked by 2500 institutional investors, which provides insight into the executives in whom shareholders feel the greatest confidence. The opinions expressed are his own. -

The Brendan Wood International's panel of 2500 institutional investors suffered through last year's markets believing value would somehow prevail. Those value investing "diehards" indeed died hard.

Conversely, those who correctly read the status of shareholder confidence and acted on it were spared. In short, shareholders that had lost confidence in the system abandoned their value criteria and sold good companies along with lesser ones.

from The Great Debate UK:

“Green growth” strategy viable for African economy

michael_keating -Michael Keating is director of the Africa Progress Panel. The opinions expressed are his own.-

After a decade of solid progress Africa is now facing the daunting task - at a time of economic crisis - of maintaining stability, economic growth and employment, addressing food security and combating climate change. No country on the continent is escaping the impact of volatile fuel and commodity prices, the drop in global demand and trade.

The global economic crisis, however, is serving as a wake-up call for both African leaders and their international partners. The Africa Progress Panel’s 2009 report, launched Wednesday in Cape Town by panel members Kofi Annan, Graca Machel and Linah Mohohlo, argues just this.

Bernanke’s deficit warning helps Obama

obama– James Pethokoukis is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own –

Sorry, Larry Summers. It’s looking more and more likely that you’re going to be stuck in the West Wing for the duration.

See, if your boss fails to reappoint Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chairman come January, it would be a public betrayal worthy of the television reality show “Survivor.” For President Obama has no greater ally: Bernanke is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

from The Great Debate UK:

The economy: reasons to be miserable

Laurence Copeland- Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Is the crisis over yet?

In the last 3 months, the Dow and the FTSE have each risen by about 25 percent, the Standard & Poor's 500 by a third. House prices appear to be stabilising in the UK. Stress-tested and backed by seemingly unlimited government funding, the banks are lending again (if only to each other), so that 1-month libor is down to only 0.3 percent.

In the Far East, the Chinese economy may be growing again, and even Japan may have pulled out of its nosedive. The oil price has recovered from its lows.

from The Great Debate UK:

GM: Chapter 11 or bust

David Bailey- Professor David Bailey works at the Coventry University Business School and has written extensively on globalisation, economic restructuring and industrial policy, with particular reference to the auto industry. The opinions expressed are his own. -

GM declared itself bankrupt on Monday in one of the largest bankruptcies in U.S. history, in an attempt to seek protection from creditors.

The firm has stacked up over $80 billion of losses in the last four years, also swallowing some $20 billion in cash from the Obama administration. It is likely to need another $30 billion before emerging from Chapter 11 substantially slimmed down and free of debts.

The recovery will feel familiar: lousy

James Saft Great Debate – James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

The good news that the United States cannot keep contracting the way it has been is not to be confused with a return to robust expansion, a point financial markets eventually will grasp.

Consumers, the mainspring of the U.S. economy, will see the cash from government stimulus slip through their fingers but will still face very ugly personal balance sheets and a brutal job market. Their party is not going to get started again for some time.

Don’t rush the Chinese to become big spenders

wei_gu_debate Wei Gu is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are her own –

As the financial crisis forces American consumers to curb their shopping binges, the world starts to realize that China’s high savings level has some upsides, marking Chinese consumption as the most resilient in the world.

Beijing has to, however, be careful in how far it goes to encourage domestic spending to help the economy ride the global downturn. Credit-driven booms and consequent busts from the United States to South Korea are pointers to the need for caution.

About 75 percent of Chinese consumers plan to maintain or increase spending in the next 12 months, while almost 60 percent in the United States and the European Union expect to reduce spending, a recent Boston Consulting Group survey found.

from Africa News blog:

Time to stop aid for Africa? An argument against

Earlier this month, Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo argued that Africa needs Western countries to cut long term aid that has brought dependency, distorted economies and fuelled bureaucracy and corruption. The comments on the blog posting suggested that many readers agreed. In a response, Savio Carvalho, Uganda country director for aid agency Oxfam GB, says that aid can help the continent escape poverty - if done in the right way:

In early January, I travelled to war-ravaged northern Uganda to a dusty village in Pobura and Kal parish in Kitgum District. We were there to see the completion of a 16km dirt road constructed by the community with support from Oxfam under an EU-funded programme.

The road is bringing benefits in the form of access to markets, education and health care. Some parents say their daughters feel safer walking to school on the road instead of through the bushes. Many families have used the wages earned from construction work to pay for school fees and medical treatment. This is the impact of aid.

Rising unemployment gravest threat to U.S. and UK

John Kemp Great Debate– John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own –

Rising unemployment is the now the largest single threat to attempts to stabilize the banking system through recapitalization and assets swaps designed to remove toxic assets from bank balance sheets.

It is also the main impediment to restarting bank lending, renewing output growth and preventing debt-deflation becoming entrenched.

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