“Here we know there’s a reason why someone’s pinged for corruption or someone’s not pinged for corruption and usually there’s something sits behind it, so when there’s an anti-corruption campaign in Guangdong or Shenzhen, then it’s a fair bet that that’s somehow tied to elite politics, because why ping Person A and not B? And I think that is the context in which law is practiced here,” [Geoff Raby, who from 2007 until this summer served as Australian ambassador to China] said. “There is rule by law here…But there’s no rule of law. There’s nothing that sits above the political processes of the [top leadership].”
…….“We have never seen in world history, with Nazi Germany perhaps to one side, a global economic power that has stood so far apart from the international norms of social and political organisation, so it’s something different. It really, really is different,” Mr Raby said. He later assured me that when he uses this line in speeches, he throws in a mention of Nazi Germany to pre-empt the nitpickers of history, not as a point of comparison to China. That would be rather undiplomatic indeed.
Economists expect 2012 will see a slowdown in the economy of China, Australia’s biggest trading partner. China’s gross domestic product growth could slip to around 8% from more than 9% this year, which will lead to lower demand for commodities. Already, the Reserve Bank of Australia’s index of commodity prices—a weighted basket of Australia’s resource sector exports—has fallen sharply this year. The central bank says the economy’s resources-led surplus may have hit its peak and could decline “somewhat” from here.
Well, the official November manufacturing PMI, a more reliable survey than the private sector alternative [once seasonally adjusted], saw finished goods inventories rise to their highest reading ever in November. Along with across the board weakness in order books….. and a deceleration in output, import weakness, a steep decline in the new orders-to-inventories ratio and a depleting work backlog, the manufacturing sector looks to be under contractionary pressure. The moment of discontinuity has not yet arrived, but the odds of such an unwelcome appearance manifesting in the near term from this enfeebled jumping off point have certainly shortened.
China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers index PMI dipped below 50 for the first time since the recovery yesterday. The headline PMI declined to 49, below consensus of 49.8. Looking into the components probably provides an even gloomier picture. New exports order declined further to 45.6 from 48.6, indicating continued deterioration of global demand.
Hillary Clinton has urged developing nations to be “smart shoppers” when accepting foreign aid from China and other new donors, as she became the first US secretary of state in more than 50 years to visit Burma on Wednesday.
In Rangoon, Mrs Clinton warned that powerful emerging economies may be more interested in exploiting natural resources than promoting real development.
“Be wary of donors who are more interested in extracting your resources than in building your capacity,” she said. “Some funding might help fill short-term budget gaps, but we’ve seen time and again that these quick fixes won’t produce self-sustaining results.”
HONG KONG — Faced with an economy that appears to be slowing faster than economists forecast even a month ago, the Chinese government on Wednesday unexpectedly reversed its yearlong move toward tighter monetary policy and took an important step to encourage banks to resume lending.
The central bank said that commercial banks would be allowed to keep a slightly lower percentage [0.5pc] of their deposits as reserves at the central bank. The change, which will take effect on Monday, means that commercial banks will have more money to lend, which could help to rekindle economic growth and a slumping real estate market.
The offspring of party leaders, often called “princelings,” are becoming more conspicuous, through both their expanding business interests and their evident appetite for luxury, at a time when public anger is rising over reports of official corruption and abuse of power.
State-controlled media portray China’s leaders as living by the austere Communist values they publicly espouse. But as scions of the political aristocracy carve out lucrative roles in business and embrace the trappings of wealth, their increasingly high profile is raising uncomfortable questions for a party that justifies its monopoly on power by pointing to its origins as a movement of workers and peasants.
“There has been an intensification of labour unrest in the past week that is probably the most significant spike in unrest since the summer of 2010,” said Geoffrey Crothall of China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based labour advocacy group that monitors unrest in China.
….Factories are cutting the overtime that workers depend on to supplement their modest base salaries, after a drop in overseas orders.
“What I am saying quite simply is that the U.S. is not passing judgment on whether or not China chooses to have state owned enterprises. Our concern is that to the extent they do, those SOEs should not receive benefits (e.g., preferred financing, exemption from anti-monopoly laws, generous export credits, etc) that put them at an artificial competitive advantage vis a vis private enterprises — of the U.S. or indeed any other country.
And I did not make the term ‘competitive neutrality’ up. This broad theme is incorporated in the (proposed trade deal called the) Trans Pacific Partnership and more specifically in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development work.
My point is not to challenge the Chinese SOE model, it is to say that SOEs should operate within a system of global rules and norms, and that Chinese government support measures should not distort competition within that system….”
HSBC issued the preliminary “flash” version of its monthly manufacturing purchasing managers index survey – a closely watched non-government view on how China’s economy is faring. The survey fell to a contractionary reading of 48 for November, compared to a mildly expansionary reading of 51 last month. A reading of 50 separates expansion from contraction.
CHINA — Home prices will fall between 15 percent to 30 percent in the next two years, according to Mark Mobius, who oversees $40 billion as Hong Kong-based executive chairman of Franklin Templeton Investments’ Emerging Markets Group.
The current structure of Europe cracks under the slowly rising stress of vendor financing: export-based prosperity for some, debt-financed consumption by others. Unless reformed, this can only end badly. The global economy has similar imbalances. In 2010 the trade surpluses of China, Russia, and East Asia (China being half the total) were almost equal to the US trade deficit of $560 billion. OPEC, Germany, and Japan accumulated another $518 billion surplus. These numbers continue year by year, accumulating stress that will eventually break the current global financial order.
We should watch and learn from Europe’s experience in the months to come. We, and the rest of the world, may follow them sooner than we expect.
Take a look at the [Chinese] Leading Index’s sharp deterioration recently – there has been a clear and material deterioration in the leading index over the past couple of months. This suggests to us a substantial further fall in Chinese GDP. The last release of a week or so ago showed Chinese GDP growing at 9.1% against expectations of 9.1%. This leading index to us suggests that this growth rate will fall to 8% which is getting dangerously close to the “hard landing” territory.
China already runs its own risk of massive losses on the currency reserves – now worth $3,200bn – it has accumulated. That was a public capital outflow aimed at supporting its trade surpluses. But, in its attempts at managing the currency relationship with the US, it is the latter that controls the central bank. China can huff and puff. But it must either buy the money the US creates, to preserve competitiveness, or stop doing so. If it buys, it throws good money after bad. If it stops buying, it imposes a shock on itself.
Although there has been some noise about easing real estate curbs amid recent aggressive price cutting and subsequent protests, Li Daokui’s [academic advisor and member of the monetary policy committee of the People’s Bank of China] view is consistent with Premier Wen Jiabao’s view that curbs will be remain in place. He believes that economic growth will slow, and the growth model which relies on real estate development will end.
He added that inflation in China will probably fall from about 5.5% for this year to just 2.8% next year…..