Misreading Chinese Rebalancing

China's economic slowdown has caused Western pundits to succumb, once again, to the “China Crash” syndrome. But, though the composition of Chinese GDP growth appears disconcerting, the rebalancing of any economy – a major structural transformation in the sources of output growth – can hardly be expected to occur overnight.

NEW HAVEN – The punditocracy has once again succumbed to the “China Crash” syndrome – a malady that seems to afflict economic and political commentators every few years. Never mind the recurring false alarms over the past couple of decades. This time is different, argues the chorus of China skeptics.

Yes, China’s economy has slowed. While the crisis-battered West could only dream of matching the 7.5% annual GDP growth rate that China’s National Bureau of Statistics reported for the second quarter of 2013, it certainly does represent an appreciable slowdown from the 10% growth trend recorded from 1980 to 2010.

But it is not just the slowdown that has the skeptics worked up. There are also concerns over excessive debt and related fears of a fragile banking system; worries about the ever-present property bubble collapsing; and, most important, the presumed lack of meaningful progress on economic rebalancing – the long-awaited shift from a lopsided export- and investment-led growth model to one driven by internal private consumption.

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