Red Flags: Why Xi's China Is in Jeopardy Audiolibro Audible – Edizione integrale
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Will China rule the world, or will its dream turn into a nightmare? George Magnus, the trusted economic commentator on China, provides a penetrating account of the threats to China's continued rise.
Over the past four decades, China's remarkable transformation has garnered admiration but also sparked concern. Magnus draws on his intimate knowledge of this dynamic nation to uncover the origins of its ascent and show why the economic traps it faces at home and the political challenges it faces abroad pose a serious threat to its continued rise.
President Xi, possibly now leader for life, is determined to realize the Chinese dream of rejuvenating the nation and consigning to history the "century of humiliation". But Magnus warns that the Middle Kingdom's future rests on the willingness of its leader to embrace reform and open up, a philosophy that is at odds with his actions to date.
Engagingly weaving together economics, politics, and history, Red Flags is an authoritative and lucid account of the troubled times that lie ahead for a nation whose economic fortunes are closely intertwined with our own.
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So what’s it going to be? The free market that can wander into deep crises or the intelligently planned economy that keeps things on the straight and narrow? Does China hold the secret to growth?
George Magnus is writing with the benefit of having read Acemoglu and Robinson’s answer to this important question (namely that you need both inclusive economic institutions and inclusive political institutions to achieve lasting growth, and thus that China will fail) and indeed explicitly refers to their magnum opus, “Why Nations Fail.” Regardless, he prefers to duck the question and dwell on four hurdles China will have to clear before we get to the big stuff.
Much as I’d love to hear what he’s got to say about the big questions, and much as I care a lot less about the four questions he poses than I care about (for example) why a competent Chinese scientist / artist / intellectual / teacher / dolphin trainer would want to stay in a country where machines read his every email and constantly register his whereabouts, “Red Flags” makes for persuasive reading, because it spells out four threats Xi and his party (that is rapidly displacing all other institutions of the state, Magnus alleges) face right here, right now:
1. Do they bail out the rogue lenders or do they force the already twice bailed-out local governments and banks into “balance sheet recession with Chinese characteristics?” Can the country withstand the necessary fall in GDP that will accompany the necessary refocusing away from debt-fuelled growth?
2. What gives? Free movement of capital across the Chinese border, the risk-free rate of return on assets within the Chinese economy (with the associated rate of GDP growth) or the hyper-politicized exchange rate for the Renminbi?
3. What’s to be done about the fact that China is ageing faster than any other nation on Earth? Here George Magnus, author of “The Age of Aging” does not mince words: nothing! Even the US, I seem to remember from reading that book, could re-draw its border to include Mexico and its demographics would not change in a big way. China is simply going to age, end of.
4. The middle-income trap: China’s working population has been shrinking since 2012. It will be the first country of its kind (of the kind that bootstrapped its way out of poverty via a combination of increasingly sophisticated manufacturing and protectionism) to get old before it’s gotten rich, with all that may entail for people’s sense of gratitude to the institutions of government.
This fourth “red flag” is in truth the theme of the whole book: China has reached the end of the road that started with Deng’s reforms and ended with Xi’s appointment at the top. Magnus picks up on Richard Koo’s original observation that China has reached a “Lewis turning point” in its labor market and looks for the equivalent across all institutions, to conclude that the new emperor has his work cut out.
There are bonus chapters on Chinese history, on the Belt and Road initiative and on trade, and all are written along exactly those lines: so far so good, but sometime very soon you hit a fork in the road. Not only that, but wisdom will not suffice when those choices are made: China will need luck on her side.
I was persuaded.
The author maintains that there are four "traps" for China: Debt trap; Renminbi trap; Demographic trap and, fourthly, the Middle Income trap.
The arguments put forward make a lot of sense, but only time will tell.
Regardless, the author is very correct in saying that"The new ideological path on which Xi's China is set marks a break from the pragmatism that characterised China under previous leaders, and increases the likelihood of mishaps and, perhaps in the medium to long term, instability".
Unfortunately for me, and other non-Chinese experts, I have no way of really knowing hoe Xi's China is doing, although it seems to have been very successful in penetrating the west. That Xi has shaken, and is shaking, the world cannot be in doubt. That the west will push back adequately and quickly is in doubt.
Regardless, thank you Mr. Magnus for a very interesting, informative and educative read.
1. the debt trap (if deleveraging means no more debt-fuelled growth,
2. the contradictions of the renminbi (if China really has ambitions to make its currency global, will it loosen capital controls and run the considerable risk of capital flight?)
3. ageing demographics (China is getting older faster than any other country - here Magnus is in his element)
and 4. the middle income trap (the one bit I felt could have been explained better)
It is an easy read and is engaging enough that the 200-odd pages don't feel lengthy.
Given China's wobble in 2018, this is very useful for anyone trying to understand the (usually opaque) goings on in China and what is in store in the medium term.
Should they ever invade Europe, they don't need to bring anything with them. We have bought everything from them.