Dire Straits

Republic of China

Editor’s Note: This article is a response to Paul V. Kane’s op-ed in The New York Times which suggested the United States reduce its budget deficit by ending military assistance and arms sales to Taiwan.

Few articles have riled me up as much as this one, which exemplifies the misguided conventional thinking regarding China. It is a microcosm of the wishful thinking that permeates the global community at the moment. Here are a few reasons why Paul Kane is wrong.

Geo-political
Taiwan is an old, old ally of the United States, with strong political and cultural ties. Taiwan sends a significant portion of its youth to be educated in the United States. To “ditch” them, as Kane suggests so casually, would severely damage U.S. credibility in Asia.

Sinomics

Photo © davidden from Flickr

Being a consumer in China is like being a laboratory mouse. The longer you stay the more sensitive you become to slight fluctuations in the prices of everyday goods, rent, or travel, and, before you know it, all you can do is debate the yo-yo that is the Chinese marketplace with anyone who’ll listen.  The current bogeyman, inflation, which has pushed prices for almost everything worth buying in China—including simple commodities like rice, garlic, and apples—to levels beyond the reach of half the population, is not some freak of the market. It’s a glitch in the great, centrally-controlled Matrix of the CCP.

The Mystery of the Smuggled U.S. “Bearer” Bonds

There are few news reports these days that inspire confidence in the U.S. economy. Unemployment levels rose to a 26-year high of 9.5% in June and word of a second stimulus package (vehemently opposed by Obama) has investors balking at earnings projections and questioning whether we are in fact on the road to recovery. Amidst the worst recession since the Great Depression, a mind-boggling news story has emerged which poses questions pulled right from the pages of a Tom Clancy novel.

Toward a Less Flat World

The weakness that the global supply change has displayed will surely mean changes for the world. As Thomas Friedman has argued, the world has become much flatter in the past few decades. The growing trend of pursuing a first-world living, the globalization of commerce, and the export of certain cultural icons worldwide has had startling implications. But as the global economy, for the first time in decades, begins to shrink, one wonders if this means the end of other trends as well.

Backsliding

The international financial crisis has brought the underlying tensions in Mainland China between strengthening the rule of law and fostering economic growth to the fore. The case of the export-driven economic powerhouse Guangdong Province illuminates the priorities of the Chinese government and the implications that the economic downturn may have for the rule of law across the Mainland.

Booming, China Faults U.S. Policy on the Economy: A Response

This article is a response to: “Booming, China Faults U.S. Policy on the Economy.”

The rate of economic growth in Chinese since 1979 has been dizzying. 400 million people lifted out of poverty. Double-digit year-on-year growth since the early 1990s. Such unfettered growth has caused many scholars and bureaucrats to look to China as the new model for growth and development. The Chinese government, rightfully pleased with its superb economic stewardship, has begun asserting itself and wagging a disapproving finger at the U.S. The Chinese criticisms of the U.S. economy in this article were justified, but insightful criticism of a system does not mean that an alternative system is better. Although the Chinese economy may look good now, it is teetering on a broken foundation.

Red Hot Cold War

1997. Riots broke loose in the streets. Years of money streaming into the Thai economy had come to a sudden end—the baht had collapsed. The economic jolt would wipe billions out of the economy. The shockwave would rattle the surrounding economies in Southeast Asia. Billionaire investor George Soros would be held as a “Satan” by the local Thai population for what it believed was his role in bringing the crisis to a tipping point. Eventually, the disturbance to the region subsided and the economies began recovery, but the path to the next potential Cold War had begun.

GDP in the Red?

A new article in The Economist reveals a startling discovery: when China’s GDP was recalculated using Purchasing Power Parity, China’s GDP fell by 40%. Is there cause for concern, or is this just more statistic slinging by economists?