Taming the China Bears

BEIJING – The market is always in search of a story, and investors, it seems, think they have found a new one this year in China. The country’s growth slowdown and mounting financial risks have spurred a growing wave of pessimism, with economists worldwide warning of an impending crash.

But dire predictions for China have abounded for the last 30 years, and not one has materialized. Are today’s really so different?

The short answer is no. Like the predictions of the past, today’s warnings are based on historical precedents and universal indicators against which China, with its unique economic features, simply cannot be judged accurately.

The bottom line is that the complexity and distinctiveness of China’s economy mean that assessing its current state and performance requires a detail-oriented analysis that accounts for as many offsetting factors as possible. Predictions are largely pointless, given that the assumptions underpinning them will invariably change.