The removal of presidential term limits in China sent shock waves around the world. But the real issues that should be confronted – not just in China, but also in the US – concern the quality of a country's leadership.
The recent correction in the US stock market is now being characterized as a fleeting aberration – a volatility shock – in what is still deemed to be a very accommodating investment climate. In fact, for a US economy that has a razor-thin cushion of saving, dependence on rising asset prices has never been more obvious.
Notwithstanding all the self-congratulatory flourishes in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s political report to the 19th National Congress, there is good reason to believe that the Chinese economy is only in the early stages of its long-heralded structural transformation. To reach its goal, China will have to resolve three contradictions.
A decade after the onset of the global financial crisis, it seems more than appropriate for central bankers to move the levers of policy off their emergency settings. A world in recovery – no matter how anemic it may be – does not require a crisis-like approach to monetary policy.
On August 14, President Donald Trump instructed the US Trade Representative to commence investigating Chinese infringement of intellectual property rights. Whatever the merit of such allegations, Chinese retaliation against US trade sanctions would almost certainly cause far more economic damage.
International economic forecasters find it difficult to resist superimposing the experience of crisis-prone developed economies onto China. But, once again, the Chinese economy has defied the pessimists: after decelerating for six consecutive years, real GDP growth appears to be inching up in 2017.
Though Japan’s experience since the early 1990s provides many lessons, policymakers in the rest of the world have failed miserably in heeding them. Time and again, major central banks – especially the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, and the Bank of England – have been quick to follow the Bank of Japan's disastrous lead.
Once an adapter to globalization, China is increasingly a driver of it. The Next China is becoming a Global China, upping the ante on its connection to an increasingly integrated world – and creating a new set of risks and opportunities.
Slowly but surely, a bruised and battered global economy now appears to be shaking off its deep post-2008 malaise. But this hardly means that the world is returning to normal; on the contrary, the global growth dynamic has undergone an extraordinary transformation during the last nine years.
Another growth scare has come and gone for the Chinese economy, with export growth up strongly in the first two months of 2017. For the country's policymakers, the challenge now is to stay focused on executing their domestic strategy, rather than seeking to replace the US at the center of the global system.