The Chinese Economy’s Secret Recipe

BEIJING – China’s GDP growth this year may approach 10%. While some countries are still dealing with economic crisis or its aftermath, China’s challenge is – once again – how to manage a boom.

Thanks to decisive policy moves to pre-empt a housing bubble, the real-estate market has stabilized, and further corrections are expected soon. This is good news for China’s economy, but disappointing, perhaps, to those who assumed that the government would allow the bubble to grow bigger and bigger, eventually precipitating a crash.

Whether or not the housing correction will hit overall growth depends on how one defines “hit.” Lower asset prices may slow total investment growth and GDP, but if the slowdown is (supposedly) from 11% to 9%, China will avoid economic over-heating yet still enjoy sustainable high growth. Indeed, for China, the current annualized growth rate of 37% in housing investment is very negative. Ideally, it would slow to, say, 27% this year!

China has sustained rapid economic growth for 30 years without significant fluctuations or interruption – so far. Excluding the 1989-1990 slowdown that followed the Tiananmen crisis, average annual growth over this period was 9.45%, with a peak of 14.2% in 1994 and 2007, and a nadir of 7.6% in 1999.