Everyone agrees that China’s economy must be rebalanced, but few have bothered to delve into the costs. Japan’s experience has shown that even well-meant changes could sow the seeds for a bubble.
China cannot stay with its current economic model forever. But as the economy has become extremely unbalanced, to some extent even more so than Japan’s in the 1980s, rocking the boat too much risks tipping it over. Instead of rushing into changes, it would be better to make reforms gradually.
Most observers believe an extremely loose monetary policy was the root cause of Japan’s bubble. But Tomo Kinoshita, an economist at Nomura, reckons that efforts to liberalise the economy, such as sharply revaluing the yen, developing a deeper bond market and deregulating interest rates were among the fundamental reasons behind the bubble.
The challenges facing China’s economy are similar to those seen in Japan in the 1980s. Foreigners are calling for a currency revaluation because the undervalued yuan gives China’s exports an extra boost. Capital markets need to play a bigger role because investment has been directed mostly by state-owned banks.