China Chasing Its Shadows

Jack Rasmus discusses China’s efforts since 2010 to tame its foreign ‘shadow banks’ that have been playing a central role in creating financial bubbles in its residential housing, local infrastructure, and (Yuan) currency markets in recent years. Jack explains how China–unlike the USA, Europe and Japan—rapidly recovered from the 2008-09 global crash and recession by introducing a 15% of GDP fiscal stimulus focused on direct government investment.  China’s GDP quickly surged in the 10-14% range 2010-13, while the USA, Europe and Japan relied primarily on monetary policies plus fiscal austerity and their recoveries lagged. However, China’s 2009 stimulus measures also included massive monetary injections, both by China’s central bank and even more via liquidity in-flows as China opened its doors to western banking, including shadow banks. Shadow bank liquidity in particular flowed in local housing, construction markets and China’s currency markets, creating financial asset bubbles in all three. To check the growing bubbles, and to try to tame the shadow banks, China shifted policies in early 2013 to reduce direct government spending and to have its central bank retract money supply. The result was a slowing of China’s real economy in 2013. China reversed and followed later in 2013 with a mini-fiscal and monetary stimulus to try to restore growth, that did little for real growth but stimulated shadow banks and bubbles further. Similar policies in early 2014 did little to stimulate the real economy, but did tame residential housing and currency bubbles somewhat. China continues today to struggle to tame its shadow banks and bubbles while experiencing slower real growth. Since 2010 shadow banks have pumped more than 20 trillion Yuan–$3.5 trillion–into China. China today experiences the slowest growth in 24 years, a virtually flat manufacturing sector and a probable less than 7% GDP growth in 2015. Jack explains how China’s struggle with shadow banks, its global capitalist speculators, and the financial asset bubbles they create represents a major contraction in global capitalism in the 21st century, and a continuation of other economies’ similar, even less successful, efforts to tame shadow bankers and their financial bubbles in the 1980s, 1990s, in southern Europe since 2010, and currently in Argentina, Venezuela, and Ukraine.

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