Chinese Reform Goes Local

China’s government is now attempting fiscal decentralization to revitalize the public-finance position, while adopting financial decentralization to maintain currency stability. Indeed, the quest for macroeconomic balance has become the main goal of economic policy.

BEIJING – Since the eruption of the global financial crisis in 2008, China has used massive economic stimulus to sustain GDP growth. But unresolved structural problems have meant that the stimulus packages generated significant fiscal and financial risk, while doing little to improve China’s capital stock.

Indeed, while China’s overall capital stock is by no means small, capital-structure and maturity mismatches have led to the accumulation of massive volumes of non-performing assets, undermining China’s economic stability and financial efficiency. In order to create the stability needed to reach the next stage of economic development, China must shift its focus from sustaining high GDP growth toward revitalizing its capital stock.

China’s new leadership seems to recognize this. Premier Li Keqiang has declared that the government will not introduce any additional economic stimulus; instead, the authorities will pursue profound and comprehensive economic reform, even if that means slower GDP growth.

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