This post examines how policy in China supported the Chinese economy prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, drawing on a newly developed toolkit. This topic is particularly important for China, where economic developments have a significant impact on the rest of the global economy, but where assessing the full spectrum of policy – monetary, regulatory and fiscal – is difficult. Policy levers in China have evolved alongside a rapidly changing economy, and there is still some uncertainty surrounding which levers are being pulled – and how hard – at any given point in time. This post attempts to paint a clearer picture of Chinese policy by assessing key policy levers and their effects on growth.
Small, young private firms in China have long been struggling to obtain formal bank loans. To bypass financial constraints, these firms have resorted to alternative, less formal financing sources. In this context, Chinese authorities are aiming to develop a more formal, market-based, and better regulated credit sector. In a Staff Working Paper, I argue that carefully designed credit sector reforms are crucial to avoid throwing out the baby with the bath water. Despite the interest rate liberalisation progressively implemented by Chinese authorities, a general crackdown on alternative finance would remain detrimental to the dynamism of small enterprises. Selectively tightening the limits around informal financing could better balance financial stability on the one hand, and welfare and efficiency on the other.
Capital investment is one of the fundamental building blocks of future productivity growth and anticipating future developments in global investment is a major concern for policymakers. This note makes two observations: 1) Despite weak investment in advanced economies, investment is not weak globally – as a share of world GDP, capital investment is currently at the highest level since 1990; 2) Emerging market economies, particularly China and commodity exporters, disproportionally contributed to the recent strength in global investment, but that contribution is now at risk.
It’s easy to get lost in the extraordinarily large numbers used to describe complex, modern economies. Economic analysis is strewn with the words millions, billions and trillions, which sound deceptively similar and are all too easy to jumble up in a slip of the tongue or a slip of the pen. But size matters. In the 12 months from June 2014, the value of the Chinese stock market increased by more than the annual output of Japan, but over the next month fell by an amount equal to UK GDP.