China shopping mall Whitehotpix/ZumaPress

China’s Slowing New Normal

While some observers agree that China can sustain 6-7% growth for the next decade or so, provided that the government implements a comprehensive set of reforms in a timely manner, others expect its growth to continue to trend downward. Who is right will depend on China’s success in boosting household income and consumption.

MILAN – The world’s two largest economies, the United States and China, seem to be enduring secular slowdowns. But there remains considerable uncertainty about their growth trajectory, with significant implications for asset prices, risk, and economic policy.

The US seems to be settling into annual real (inflation-adjusted) growth rates of around 2%, though whether this is at or below the economy’s potential remains a source of heated debate. Meanwhile, China seems to be headed for the 6-7% growth rate that the government pinpointed last year as the economy’s “new normal.” Some observers agree that such a rate can be sustained for the next decade or so, provided that the government implements a comprehensive set of reforms in the coming few years. Others, however, expect China’s GDP growth to continue to trend downward, with the possibility of a hard landing.

There is certainly cause for concern. Slow and uncertain growth in Europe – a major trading partner for both the US and China – is creating headwinds for the US and China.

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