China is on a path to capital account liberalization. If the renminbi is to become an international reserve currency (e.g. Prasad, 2016), as it has started to and one day will be, China must have an open capital account. But once the capital account is open, the economy will be exposed to gyrations of the global financial cycle (Rey, 2014). This column argues that international credit supply shocks have powerful effects on real and financial variables of the receiving countries, but not all economies are affected similarly, and those that have lower loan-to-value ratios (LTVs) and limits on foreign currency borrowing (FXLs) are less vulnerable. As China lowers controls on capital flows (e.g., Benigno et al., 2016) it should consider tightening domestic macro-prudential policy regulations (e.g., Cesa-Bianchi and Rebucci (2017) to avoid excessive volatility.
China’s entry into WTO resulted in a significant reduction in tariffs on imported manufactured goods into China. We examine the effects of market liberalization on firm and industry performance. Tariff cuts on outputs and intermediates had highly complementary effects on productivity, and explain in upwards of forty per cent of the productivity gains between 1998-2007. The effects on mark-ups were largely offsetting, however lower tariffs on inputs helped to provide additional resources for productivity-enhancing investments.
Privatization has boosted Chinese firms’ productivity, both in the short run and the long run. Consumer-oriented industries saw larger gains than “strategic” (heavily regulated) sectors. Chinese patents and “new product” surveys seem less reliable, because any statistics become useless once they become policy targets.
It seems necessary that one gains some deeper understanding of the sources of China’s phenomenal economic growth. Apart from all well-founded extant explanations, my recent book Guaranteed Bubble argues for another important yet previously overlooked source: the guarantees provided by the Chinese government.
In this paper, we show that a general equilibrium model that properly captures the risks in old age, the role of family insurance, changes in demographics, and the productivity growth rate is capable of generating changes in the national saving rate in China that mimic the data well. Our findings suggest that the combination of the risks faced by the elderly and the deterioration of family insurance due to the one-child policy may account for approximately half of the increase in the saving rate between 1980 and 2010. We also show that changes in total factor productivity growth account for the fluctuations in the saving rate during this period.