Today's NY Times reports on something I saw first-hand in Shanghai and Beijing: the Year of the Tiger got off to an early start and the Central Bank is trying to
What's bad news for the central bank is good news for the jobs market, at least from the candidate's perspective. From my perspective, this is good news about the recovery to come in the U.S. market, particularly as our balance of trade begins to recover.
But there are two important nuggets below the headline worth paying attention to. The first is that with a population of roughly 1.3 billion, China has no choice but make job creation a top priority. And pro-jobs social policy turns out to be a pretty good thing all around.
I'd be quite happy if the current U.S. and German economies took a lesson here on the value of job creation versus job protection. Creative destruction--the process by which less effective businesses are forced into failure by more effective ones--is an essential part of every healthy economy. It's only a threat when there are no other jobs to go to. China models this concept and its benefits quite well.
The second is buried in that balance of trade tidbit. Remember, China's economy has traditionally been fueled exports. The U.S. has traditionally been China's #1 export partner. And U.S. imports--the other side of China exports--have fallen more than 26%. That's the largest fall on record
(since 1949). And yet, China's economy and employment markets are booming.
Why? I'm not an economist but it's hard to miss all the new, massive building projects on the Beijing and Shanghai skylines, the job creation in construction and hospitality behind the Shanghai World Expo, or China's massive investment in high-speed rail systems
, renewable energy, and so on.
Many members of the expert online commentariat will argue that developed economies can't afford to make this sort of investment, that deficit spending will indenture our grandchildren to our debt forever, that the only way to maintain the hegemony of the dollar among world currencies is to avoid debt at all cost. They'd also point out that China is making many of these investments with cash, not debt, because of China's 40% savings rate, that the currency is undervalued, and that developing countries have room to develop where others don't.
Those points are fair, but wrong. Deficit spending that doesn't result in job creation--like, for example, bailing out banks--may be a necessary evil. Deficit spending to create jobs is necessary and not evil at all, since every job creates tax revenue and consumption and construction jobs create several dollars of downstream spending for every construction dollar. (Witness the difference between massive construction and low occupancy rates in China's major cities.) Whether it's the end of the world as we know it if the dollar is one of a basket of currencies rather than the world's currency is a matter for real economists to address, but one thing's clear: Greece has illustrated why the Euro won't displace the dollar any time soon, and unless the RMB is allowed to float, it won't either. And there's plenty of room in every developed country for improved infrastructure like high speed rail (China will have more than 40 "bullet trains" by the time we have two), renewable resources and all the development they will engender.
This post brought to you by Evviva Brands
, the world's brand shop for people brands.