Tag Archives: mining boom

China Crisis ‘A Lot Worse Than People Expect’

6 Apr

Robert J. Brenner, economic historian and professor of history at the University of California, offers a grim forecast of the future for China in a series titled, “Overproduction Not Financial Collapse Is The Heart Of The Crisis: The US, East Asia, and the World”:

I think the Chinese crisis is going to be a lot worse than people expect, and this is for two main reasons. The first is that the American crisis, and the global crisis more generally, is much more serious than people expected, and in the last analysis, the fate of the Chinese economy is inextricably dependent on the fate of the U.S. economy, the global economy. This is not only because China has depended to such a great extent on exports to the U.S. market. It is also because most of the rest of the world is also so dependent on the U.S., and that especially includes Europe. If I’m not mistaken, Europe recently became China’s biggest export market. But, as the crisis originating in the U.S. brings down Europe, Europe’s market for Chinese goods will also contract. So the situation for China is much worse than what people expected, because the economic crisis is much worse than people expected. Secondly, in people’s enthusiasm for what has been China’s truly spectacular economic growth, they have ignored the role of bubbles in driving the Chinese economy. China has grown, basically by way of exports and, particularly, a growing trade surplus with the U.S. Because of this surplus, the Chinese government has had to take political steps to keep the Chinese currency down and Chinese manufacturing competitive.

Specifically, it has bought up U.S. dollar-denominated assets on a titanic scale by printing titanic amounts of the renminbi, the Chinese currency. But the result has been to inject huge amounts of money into the Chinese economy, making for ever easier credit over a long period. On the one hand, enterprises and local governments have used this easy credit to finance massive investment. But this has made for ever greater overcapacity. On the other hand, they have used the easy credit to buy land, houses, shares, and other sorts of financial assets. But this has made for massive asset price bubbles, which have played a part, as in the U.S., in allowing for more borrowing and spending. As the Chinese bubbles bust, the depth of the overcapacity will be made clear. As the Chinese bubbles bust, you will also have, as across much of the rest of the world, a huge hit to consumer demand and disruptive financial crisis So, the bottom line is that the Chinese crisis is very serious, and could make the global crisis much more severe.

‘Boycott Australian Iron Ore’ – China

6 Apr

From The Australian:

A Chinese industrial group has urged domestic steel companies to stop buying iron ore from the world’s top three miners, including Australia’s Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, in protest of an alleged price monopoly, state media says.

The China Iron and Steel Association has asked domestic steel firms and traders not to import iron ore from Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Brazil’s Vale for two months, the China Net, a government news website said.

The association called for the boycott on April 2 as the most effective means to fight the “monopolistic behaviour” of the three iron ore giants, the report said.

The Rudd Government, economically-led by (unelected) Treasury secretary Ken Henry, are banking on another China-fueled mining boom to bring the budget back to surplus.  In fact, Ken Henry has predicted a “period of unprecedented prosperity”, possibly stretching to 2050, thanks to his belief in a continuous 4-decade China Miracle.

Many leading economists believe that China is in a massive bubble. Some believe it will burst within ten years… others believe by 2012.

Whoever is right, this latest event makes it clear that China is flexing its economic muscles.  Barnaby Joyce’s warnings about changes to the Foreign Investment rules by Rudd Labor only appear more prescient in light of these developments.

Global Turmoil Looms: Keating

27 Mar

From The Age:

Paul Keating has delivered a bearish assessment of the world economy, warning that another bout of global turmoil is possible if trade and capital imbalances go unaddressed.

The former prime minister and treasurer last night argued current account surplus nations such as China and Germany must urgently shrink their surpluses by lifting the role of domestic demand.

Failure to do so could trigger another sharp deterioration in global economic conditions, he said, damaging Australia’s growth prospects.

Mr Keating also casts doubt on China’s ability to continue growing at recent rates of near 10 per cent. He said this rate was being artificially supported by excessive investment and its pegged currency, which makes its exporters more competitive.

“Our biggest customer China is growing for the moment… but only on investment steroids,” he said.

The former prime minister also highlighted risks to foreign countries with large debts, such as the US and Europe.

In the event of a double-dip recession, Mr Keating said the developed world would not have the funding to support massive fiscal packages.

“If a financial crisis comes in the future there won’t be the method to deal with it as we’ve seen in this crisis,” he said.

Keating is correct.

Thanks to Rudd Labor’s panicked, massive “stimulus” spending – tens of billions of borrowed money wasted on pink batts, foil insulation, and Julia Gillard Memorial School Halls – Australia no longer has a safety net.

And despite the daily warnings of crisis dead ahead – now coming even from former “world’s greatest treasurer” Paul Keating – Rudd Labor is continuing to borrow well over $1bn a week.

When the next wave of the GFC comes, everyone will know that Barnaby is right.

China Facing “Boom, Bubble, Bust”

26 Mar

From BusinessWeek:

China appears on track for an “asset boom, bubble and bust” that may take three years to play out and probably won’t be thwarted by tighter economic policy, Citigroup Inc. economists said.

Citigroup joins hedge fund manager Jim Chanos, Gloom, Boom & Doom publisher Marc Faber and Harvard University professor Kenneth Rogoff in warning of a potential crash in China.

“What is policy in China doing about the threat of overheating in the financial and real economy?” Buiter and Shen said. “The short answer is: not much, and not enough to prevent the creation of what could become a major asset boom, bubble and bust.”

China Biggest Worry For Markets

17 Mar

Fromt the Wall Street Journal:

Nervousness is growing in the financial markets about China, which might seem odd when there are so many other places to worry about.

There’s still Greece, for example, which is likely to be the focus of this week’s meetings of European finance ministers. There’s Germany, and its trade surplus. And there’s the U.S., the U.K. and all the other places with triple-A-rated debt that may not be rated triple-A for much longer.

So why the focus on China, where shares closed Monday at their lowest in five weeks, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite ending below 3000 at its weakest since Feb. 9? Well, as one bank put it on Monday: “Are we facing a ‘growth miracle’ or will China be the next bubble to burst?

Even the markets are more cautious on China than Australia’s financial powers, the RBA and the Treasury department. They still believe we are headed for 40 years of “unprecedented prosperity” on the back of a new China-fueled mining boom.

Digging A Hole For Ourselves

5 Mar

From The Age:

In a series of speeches in recent days, senior economic officials from Reserve governor Glenn Stevens down have spread the same message: the brief interruption of the global financial crisis is over, and Australia has gone back to where it was – into a resources boom so big it will dwarf the booms of the late ’60s and early ’80s.

The Reserve Bank’s best and brightest argue that this will be good for Australia because it will allow us to earn more income now than we would if the minerals stayed in the ground for a few more years.

With the greatest respect, I sharply disagree. I think we need a national debate on whether it really is in our interests to try to sell off our mineral wealth as rapidly as possible, as our economic leaders believe…

We need to think hard about this. The implicit argument from our officials is that we should allow otherwise-viable industries to be put down in the interests of making room for us to extract as many minerals now as possible.

This is wrong: not just because they are picking winners, or just because China, too, has its vulnerabilities and could fall, but because you don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

We need to keep a mix of strong, diverse industries to guarantee our future. We need to debate how we do that, and learn from how others do it.

Japan PM: Nation’s Fiscal State ‘Quite Severe’

5 Mar

From Reuters:

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said on Thursday there is no doubt that the nation’s fiscal state is quite severe.

“There is no doubt that the current situation is quite severe,” Hatoyama said in a parliamentary committee meeting.

Japan is Australia’s second largest trading partner.  In the December 2009 quarter we sold $38.2bn in exports to Japan. China is our largest trading partner – we sold $42.2bn in exports to China in the same quarter.

A further deterioration in Japan’s ‘quite severe’ financial situation, and/or the predicted bursting of the China real estate bubble, would have disastrous impacts on the Australian economy.

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