Posts tagged trade

China on Equity vs. Efficiency

Should China slow down and focus more on Equality rather than Efficiency?

The Economist: News Article

As the gap between the rich and the poor increases substantially, China’s prime minister, Wen Jiabao, has ordered the new upcoming president, Xi Jinping, to “satisfy the people” by focusing more on the equality. Wen Jiabao has set a low target of 7.5% growth rate for Xi Jinping in order to slow down the overheated economy, lower the inflation rate, and focus more on dividing the economic pie equally for the people.

This old debate about whether an economy should focus on equality or efficiency is a ever-real problem for China as its economy is growing at double-digit growth rate, however, the gap between the rich and the poor has widen. This gap stirs the conflict between the people and the government as they get upset about the problem. There has been outburst of unrest in many parts of China in relation to the low income and the ever-increasing inflation rate.

Therefore, this political situation has forced the Chinese government to focus more on the equality. Otherwise, the government will soon lose the support from people and authority, which will result in the demise of the communist China.

I think that the Chinese officials are well aware of the trade-off of focusing more on equality. The economy will soon lose the efficiency once it had and the economic pie will shrink, instead of increasing. Surely the officials will be able to slice the pie more equally for the poor, however, this will act as a disincentive for the rich to work hard, which lead to the shrinkage of the economic size. In short term, the poor experience the prosperity from equality. However, in the long run, “The poor will get poorer and the rich will get less rich,” which is a quote by Margaret Thatcher.

This is a video of Magaret Thatcher commenting on socialist policies and how everyone will be hurt by focusing on equality.

China’s GDP per capita is only $8,394 according to the recent data from IMF (2011). Its GDP might be the second biggest in the world, however, there are too many people, which decreases the GDP per capita. UK’s GDP per capita was absolutely higher than China’s around 1990, and they were still arguing about equality verses efficiency. UK led by Margaret Thatcher focused more on efficiency. China will almost certainly decrease its economic pie if Xi Jinping focuses on equality. If I were at the decision-making position, I would certainly have focused more on efficiency. I would focus on equality later when the GDP per capita is high enough.

I understand that China has to satisfy and relieve complaints from their people to sustain political power. I am also aware that the government is focusing on slowing down the economy at an appropriate level. However, if the economy loses its economic momentum from socialist policies, the chance that China will become a developed country will decrease substantially.

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U.S. vs. China: Currency and Trade Dispute

Historically, China used the fixed exchange rate for their currency Yuan over almost 50 years. Of course, China has discontinued its inflexible practice from the start of July of 2005. Instead of the fixed exchange rate, they employed a flexible exchange rate system. However, it wasn’t 100% flexible or floating because of the Chinese government’s intervention in the currency exchange market. What the government would do is that they would use their reserves of currencies to ‘manipulate’ or manage the currency exchange rate to be at a certain level. Exchange rate is a ratio between the value of two currencies and it is a method to translate the value of one currency into another.

China armed with undervalued currency and its huge industrial factories and infrastructures, it gains enormous amount of surplus in current account against United States. The surplus in current account means that the country is exporting more than it is importing. Therefore, China is gaining lots of US dollars from the trade. If you look this at the American point of view, US is losing in terms of current account against China. US is importing more than it is exporting. The imbalance in the current account in both cases (surplus and deficit) could create some problems. For deficit in current account, the country will experience in large amounts of payments losing to the foreign country. So US will be losing lots of its payments and interests to China. For surplus in current account, it is considered ‘desirable’ compared to the deficit in current account, however, it could mean that the country is not experiencing the highest possible standards of living. Also, it could be seen as economy’s under-performing. Also, it exerts pressure on the exchange rate to appreciate the currency of the country.

As you could see, the fixed exchange rate could cause a problem of shortage in the currency supply. This would generally push the exchange rate upwards, but the fixed rate block this. Therefore, the shortage in the supply of the currency occurs.

What would have happen if the Yuan got stronger and appreciated? It would decrease the exports of China dramatically. Conversely, it would increase the imported goods to China. This will ‘fix’ the imbalance and lower the surplus in current account against United States. In the point of view of Americans, this will increase their exports to China and decrease the imports due to increase in the price. This would be beneficial for both countries’ balance of payment, however, China refuses to appreciate their currency. It is because the weak Yuan stimulates exports to US and this is the key engine for China’s enormous economic growth. They think that the surplus in the current account is a good thing, however, as it was mentioned there are problems with it also.

In conclusion, China’s currency policy is creating an imbalance in the trade between United States and China. Also, it is creating the imbalance in the balance of payment. It would be idealistic if China gave up their under-evaluation policy. However, it will increase the unemployment rate in China as the exports decrease and the number of workplaces in China decreases. Conversely, this will be beneficial for United States for it will lower the unemployment rate by the increase in exports and increase in the number of workplaces.

Resources:

Council of Foreign Relations – Confronting the China-US Economic Imbalance

Wikipedia – Fixed Exchange Rate

Graph from Triple AAA Reading – Fixed Exchange Rate

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Free Trade vs. Protectionism

Satirical View of Protectionism

There are strong arguments from both opinions. However, I do think that an industry needs a protectionism in order to build up its capability to compete with international industries. There are many real world examples that support this idea of protectionism. Of course, it could be unfair for some of the countries that are trying to get in to the market, however, the country with inefficient, lack of technology on specific area will never get better just by initiating free trade with other countries, completely making the weak industry vulnerable to international siege of cheap… products.

There are many industries in East Asia that have benefited from protectionism. One of the most famous example would be South Korea. The country had set a quota, tariff and all methods of protectionism possible to grow one of the important industries. For example, the electronics industries have heavily benefited from the protectionism. From 1970-1990’s, the electronic companies such as Samsung or LG have had significant growth due to the protectionism. Thus, expanding economic growth within the country and lifting the standards of living of the South Korean people. If Korea did not use any kind of protectionism to bolster its core industries, they might be still suffering from poverty and low standards of living. This also includes Japanese, Taiwanese and other nation’s industries. These countries became wealthy by overcoming the lack of resources by protecting the important, lucrative industries.

It would be completely immoral for developed countries to impose and bully undeveloped countries to sign up for WTO and initiate free trade. These undeveloped countries will never have the chance to grow and develop their own industry and technology. It would be forcing a poor country to stay poor and never giving them a chance to have develop their own industry and raise the standards of living.

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Yuan Rise Harmful for Chinese Economy

Yi Xiaozhun says the currency has been turned into a political issue

BBC News: News Article 1, News Article 2

According to BBC News, allowing the yuan to strengthen against the dollar would hurt the Chinese economy in the short-term.

If yuan strengthens against the dollar, the Chinese firms or international firms in China will have difficult time exporting their products to foreign markets. Because Chinese economy and growth is heavily depended on its exports to foreign markets, especially US market, it is resentful toward the appreciation of yuan against US dollar.

The minister Yi Xiaozhun argued that if yuan value rises, the Chinese economy would suffer short-term economic depression. China has already experienced its first ever trade deficit of $7.2bn and if the appreciation of yuan takes place, this trade deficit would be aggravated. Some experts say that this could be a short-term phenomenon due to unplanned importing, however, it could be a serious problem for Chinese economy if yuan appreciates.

In sum, China will suffer economic depression if its currency, yuan, rises against US dollar. Thus, even if United States politically, diplomatically pressures China, China will never give up due to this its pivotal role in Chinese economy.

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US vs. China – Currency Dispute

New York Times: Click Here

BBC News: Click Here

According to New York Times, the Obama administration is pressuring China to stop the devaluation of yuan, a policy that fuels its persistent trade gap with the United States.

Obama administration claims that China is artificially manipulating its currency to boost up its export to US. However, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao has denied that its currency is artificially devaluated.

Why are United States and China growling at each other for this issue? It is all about trade: Export and Import.

As many of you know, China is one of the biggest exporters. You may at least have a random product that is made from China. China gets all the ‘income’ or money from exporting its goods to other foreign countries, especially United States. So it is important for China to have yuan to USD exchange rate lower in order to export a lot of their stuffs to United States. It makes their products cheaper, so they gain a great price advantage over United States.

In United States point of view, this could be disturbing to them. Obama administration has promised to make like 2 million job places for its people. However, excessive import from China is one obstacle to their economic recovery. Also, United States have lots of exporting companies that are losing the price competition to Chinese exporting companies. So, Obama administration is pressuring China to raise their exchange rate. Obama administration also fears that China is stealing American jobs.

As for China, there is no way that they are going to reevaluate their currency even if they are artificially manipulating it. The export is the main steam engine of China’s economic development so it will most unlikely give up on the low yuan. For United States, their ‘precious’ money goes into Chinese government’s pocket, which they think it should be used in order to recover their economy. They are importing more than what they are exporting to China.

In conclusion, I don’t think China will ever reevaluate its currency even if they are actually manipulating it. This dispute is just aggravating the US-Chinese relationship.

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Production Possibility Curve

Summary:

  1. Resources are limited
  2. Shows how efficient an economy is
  3. Choices between alternatives -> trade offs
  4. Opportunity Cost increases
  5. Shifts outwards -> better technology & new resources

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