The End of China’s Easy Growth
The more we learn about China’s vast stimulus plans, the more far-fetched they seem.
Caixin magazine reports - with disbelief - that the wish-list for industrial parks and mega-projects unveiled by all echelons of the Chinese system has reached 15 trillion yuan by some estimates.
This is over $2.3 trillion or nearly four times the blitz of extra spending after the Lehman crisis in 2008, a policy that pushed investment to a world record 49pc of GDP and is now deemed to have been a mistake.
But as Caixin also reports, the authorities are running out of easy money. Land transfer fees for the 300 largest cities have fallen 38pc over the last year.
The central government’s tax revenues have grown 8pc, but spending has risen 37pc. “The good days of overflowing government coffers are over,” it said.
Mark Williams from Capital Economics said the fiscal blitz is a mirage. Most of the road and urban rail plans were already in the pipeline. Spending will be spread over years. “We can see no sign of a fresh stimulus. The project approvals are interesting solely because the government chose to publicise them,” he said.
China may have to muddle through the downturn after all with less extra juice than hoped. This will be sobering. The country’s cost advantage over America - and others - has vanished.