China Bears Disappointed Yet Again As PRC Posts 7.9 Percent Q4 GDP Growth

A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 18 2013 8:11 AM

China Bears Disappointed Yet Again As PRC Posts 7.9 Percent Q4 GDP Growth

156375473
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 14: Chinese President Hu Jintao (L) and former president Jiang Zemin attend closing of the 18th Communist Party Congress at the Great Hall of the People on November 14, 2012 in Beijing, China. T

Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

By the time I went to China in the spring of 2009, I think it was already the conventional wisdom in the United States that the People's Republic of China was just the world's latest bubble economy due for a popping at any moment. And as best I can tell that remained the conventional wisdom throughout 2010 and 2011, while in 2012 the new global business site Quartz launched with "China Slowdown" as one of its topic verticals.

Yesterday we got China's forth quarter GDP numbers and there's no crash. Indeed, with 7.9 percent year-on-year growth the Chinese economy is actually accelerating a little bit. Naomi Rovnick at the aforementioned Quartz greets the news by warning "China's Promising GDP Growth For The Year Masks Dangers Under the Surface".

Advertisement

And I think it does. It really does. There are deep underlying vulnerabilities in the Chinese political and economic model. Add to that the demographic trends and the remorseless logic of the Solow Growth Model and there are lots of reasons for China skepticism. But I also think it's much too rarely acknowledged that China has been proving the skeptics wrong for a few years now and that they've done so to the enormous benefit of human welfare. Even if Chinese growth grinds to a complete halt next year, the fact will be that the 4+ years of stimulus-fueled growth the PRC has enjoyed since the western economies went into the toilet have been an extraordinary increase in living standards. And even though there's a lot to criticize in the regime in Beijing, there's something genuinely admirable about the Chinese government's determination to not simply suffer through a years-long span of mass unemployment for the sake of avoiding the occasional embarassing white elephant project.

There is no lower-productivity sector than the one in which unemployed people sit around feeling depressed and helpless, yet we've had a big boom in that sector here in the USA and it's an industry that continues to grow in Europe. In China, not so much. Kudos.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.