Daily Management Review

Will China Be Able To Revert To Its Economic Miracle By 2024?


Will China Be Able To Revert To Its Economic Miracle By 2024?
After a lacklustre post-COVID recovery, Beijing is faced with a difficult decision for 2024 and beyond: increase debt or decrease growth. This has cast serious doubt on the basis of China's decades of remarkable growth.
It was anticipated that after China abandoned its harsh COVID regulations, foreign investment would return, manufacturers would increase production, and land auctions and residential sales would level out.
Rather, Chinese consumers are stockpiling money for rainy days, foreign companies withdrew their investments, manufacturers faced declining Western demand, local government finances faltered, and real estate developers experienced defaults.
Some economists have even drawn comparisons between Japan's bubble and its "lost decades" of stagnation before to the 1990s, indicating that the downturned expectations have partially validated the doubts held by those who have consistently questioned China's growth model.
China sceptics contend that Beijing should have moved the economy a decade ago, from construction-led boom to consumption-driven growth, but it did not. From that point on, debt has grown faster than the economy and is now too high for real estate companies and local governments to service.
This year, decision-makers pledged to increase spending and lessen the economy's dependency on real estate. Banks are being advised by Beijing to lend more money to luxury manufacturing rather than real estate.
However, a long-term, detailed plan for clearing debt and reorganising the economy is still elusive.
China will have to deal with an ageing and contracting population as well as a challenging geopolitical landscape as the West becomes less willing to do business with the second-largest economy in the world.
China's GDP outgrew the world economy in 2023, probably growing by 5% or such. Beneath that headline, though, is the reality that China invests more than 40% of its output—twice as much as the US—implying that a sizable amount of that is wasted.
Thus, it follows that many Chinese are unaware of this rise. In June, the final set of data before China controversially stopped reporting, youth unemployment exceeded 21%.
While some university graduates have witnessed pay reductions, others who prepared for advanced economy employment are now pursuing low-skilled positions to make ends meet.
In an economy where real estate accounts for 70% of household wealth, homeowners feel increasingly impoverished. A price battle is hurting suppliers and employees even in the electric vehicle industry, one of the few economic bright spots.
Analysts warn that President Xi Jinping may face challenges to social stability as a result of the nation's pessimism. Should China descend into a fall akin to that of Japan, it would happen before to ever reaching the level of development that Japan attained.
The majority of international sectors rely heavily on Chinese suppliers, therefore that would be felt broadly. China is a major source of funding for the industrialization of Latin America and Africa by purchasing their commodities.
Due to its issues, China won't have much time until it must make some difficult decisions.
The goal of policymakers is to alter the economy's structure, yet reform has never been easy in China.
Concerns over social stability and expenses are already impeding an effort to increase benefits for hundreds of millions of rural migrant workers, who according to some estimates might add 1.7% of GDP in household spending if they had the same access to public services as urban inhabitants.
Similar issues arise when China tries to address its debt and property issues.
For their poor investments, who bears the cost? Banks, central government, state-owned companies, companies, or households?
Future growth could be weakened by any of those possibilities, according to experts.
But as of right now, China doesn't seem willing to make decisions that would compromise reform for growth.
For the upcoming year, government advisors recommend aiming for growth of about 5%.
Although that is in line with its 2023 aim, the decline brought on by the lockdowns in 2022 won't compare favourably year over year.
A goal like that might drive it towards greater debt, the kind of fiscal laxity that caused Moody's to downgrade China's credit rating outlook to negative this month, sending Chinese markets plunging to five-year lows.
The way the money is used will indicate if Beijing is shifting direction or intensifying a development paradigm that many believe has reached its limit.