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  • Author: Nicholas Borst, Nicolas R. Lardy
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: China's banking system is now the largest in the world, and its capital markets are rapidly approaching the size of those in the advanced economies. Borst and Lardy trace the evolution of China's financial system away from a traditional bank-dominated and state-directed financial system toward a more complex, market-based system. They analyze and outline the optimal sequence of financial reforms needed to manage the new risks accompanying this evolution.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis, Reform
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Ryan Rutkowski
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Faced with slowing economic growth, Chinese policymakers now recognize that the service sector of the economy—transportation, communications, finance, and health care—could spur economic activity and employment. The catch is that China must reform these and other areas to accomplish this goal. Chinese leaders have outlined an ambitious agenda for reform, but myriad vested interests could slow or block their plans. This Policy Brief evaluates the steps taken so far and the difficulties that lie ahead in implementing them. If policymakers fail to reform and open up the service sector, they run the risk of seriously impairing China's growth prospects.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Labor Issues, Financial Crisis, Reform
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Jeffrey Schott, Eujiin Jung, Cathleen Cimino-Isaacs
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Of all the free trade agreements (FTAs) concluded by Korea with its major trading partners since the turn of the century, the Korea-China FTA may be the largest in trade terms. It is, however, far from the best in terms of the depth of liberalization and the scope of obligations on trade and investment policies. Korea and China agreed to liberalize a large share of bilateral trade within 20 years, but both sides incorporated extensive exceptions to basic tariff reforms and deferred important market access negotiations on services and investment for several years. Political interests trumped economic objectives, and the negotiated outcome cut too many corners to achieve such a comprehensive result. The limited outcome in the Korea-China talks has two clear implications for economic integration among the northeast Asian countries. First, prospects for the ongoing China-Japan-Korea talks will be limited and unlikely to exceed the Korea-China outcome. Second, Korea and Japan need to strengthen their bilateral leg of the northeast Asian trilateral and the best way is by negotiating a deal in the context of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Politics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, Korea
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The latest semiannual fundamental equilibrium exchange rate (FEER) estimates find that the US dollar is now overvalued by about 10 percent, comparable to levels in 2008 through early 2010 and again in 2011. Unlike then, the current strong dollar does not reflect a weak renminbi kept undervalued by major exchange rate intervention by China. Instead, China's current account surplus has fallen sharply relative to GDP, and its recent intervention has been to prevent excessive depreciation rather than to prevent appreciation. Additionally, declines in the real effective exchange rates (REERs) for major emerging-market economies and resource-based advanced economies, driven by falling commodity prices in recent months, have strengthened the dollar. Recent increases in the REERs for the euro area and Japan have removed their modest undervaluation identified in the last FEERs estimates in May, and the Chinese renminbi remains consistent with its FEER. The dollar's rise by nearly 15 percent in real effective terms over the past two years could impose a drag of nearly one-half percent annually on US demand growth over the next five years. As the Federal Reserve moves to normalize US monetary policy, it may need to consider a gentler rise in interest rates than it might otherwise have pursued, both to temper possible further strengthening of the dollar in response to higher interest rates and to help offset the demand compression from falling net export
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, GDP
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Li-gang Liu
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: China's property market has slowed significantly since the first half of 2014, with sharp declines in sales and a buildup in the inventory of new homes. This sharper than expected downturn—which has affected not only second- and third tier smaller cities but also first-tier megacities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou—contrasts with last year's buoyant sales and double-digit price surge. Compounded by fears of a default in the shadow banking system and the perception of a highly leveraged Chinese economy, the sudden declines in the property sector are being watched closely. Many commentators believe this could be a turning point for the sector, triggering a hard landing of the Chinese economy and even a financial crisis. Over the last decade, China's property sector has become an important pillar for the country's growth as well as the key source for elevated commodity prices. A property market slump would hurt other sectors, as well as drag down resource-rich economies that rely heavily on China to buy their exports.
  • Topic: Economics, Financial Crisis, Urbanization
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, United Nations
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian, Martin Kessler
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper describes seven salient features of trade integration in the 21st century: Trade integration has been more rapid than ever (hyperglobalization); it is dematerialized, with the growing importance of services trade; it is democratic, because openness has been embraced widely; it is criss-crossing because similar goods and investment flows now go from South to North as well as the reverse; it has witnessed the emergence of a mega-trader (China), the first since Imperial Britain; it has involved the proliferation of regional and preferential trade agreements and is on the cusp of mega-regionalism as the world's largest traders pursue such agreements with each other; and it is impeded by the continued existence of high barriers to trade in services. Going forward, the trading system will have to tackle three fundamental challenges: In developed countries, the domestic support for globalization needs to be sustained in the face of economic weakness and the reduced ability to maintain social insurance mechanisms. Second, China has become the world's largest trader and a major beneficiary of the current rules of the game. It will be called upon to shoulder more of the responsibilities of maintaining an open system. The third challenge will be to prevent the rise of mega-regionalism from leading to discrimination and becoming a source of trade conflicts. We suggest a way forward—including new areas of cooperation such as taxes—to maintain the open multilateral trading system and ensure that it benefits all countries.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Anders Åslund
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Emerging-market growth from 2000 to 2012 was untypically high. This paper highlights the many reasons why emerging-economy growth is likely to be lower going forward. Much of the catch-up potential has already been used up. The extraordinary credit and commodity booms are over, and many large emerging economies are financially fragile. They have major governance problems, so they need to carry out major structural reforms to be able to proceed with a decent growth rate, but many policymakers are still in a state of hubris and not very inclined to opt for reforms. They are caught up in state and crony capitalism. Rather than providing free markets for all, the West might limit its endeavors to its own benefit. Economic convergence has hardly come to an end, but it has probably reached a hiatus that is likely to last many years. The emerging economies need to improve their quality of governance and other economic policies substantially to truly catch up. For a decade or so, the West could take the global economic lead once again as in the 1980s.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Governance
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, India, South Africa, Brazil
  • Author: Nicholas Borst
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Chinese financial system has undergone almost continuous reform since the dismantling in the 1980s of the Soviet- style system where only one state-controlled bank existed. Government efforts to create a financial system that adheres to international best practices of commercial lending accelerated in the 1990s (box 1). Reforms progressed quickly during this period, but they were accompanied by excessive credit growth and a massive increase in nonperforming loans, threatening the solvency of some banks and the financial stability of the entire economy. The risk of these weaknesses was dramatized by the 1997 Asian financial crisis, in which several nearby countries were crippled by plunging currency values, rising interest rates and difficulties servicing their foreign-held debts.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Joseph E. Gagnon
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: There is a long-standing debate among economists and policymakers on the benefits of flexible versus fixed exchange rates (Klein and Shambaugh 2010). In principle, flexible exchange rates allow a country's central bank to focus on stabilizing economic growth and inflation, which are the ultimate goals of monetary policy. However, some argue that in practice central banks often do not use their powers wisely and it may be better to restrict their freedom by requiring them to peg their currency to that of an important trading partner. Others note that flexible exchange rates are far more volatile than fundamental factors can explain (Flood and Rose 1995), raising the possibility that they may introduce wasteful cross-sectoral fluctuations in economic activity. One common viewpoint is that flexible exchange rates may be fine for large countries but that the smallest countries are better off with fixed exchange rates (Åslund 2010).
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, United Kingdom
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian, Aaditya Mattoo, Prachi Mishra
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper estimates the impact of China's exchange rate changes on exports of competitor countries in third markets, known as the "spillover effect." Recent theory is used to develop an identification strategy in which competition between China and its developing country competitors in specific products and destinations plays a key role. The variation is used—afforded by disaggregated trade data—across exporters, importers, product, and time to estimate this spillover effect. The results show robust evidence of a statistically and quantitatively significant spillover effect. Estimates suggest that, on average, a 10 percent appreciation of China's real exchange rate boosts a developing country's exports of a typical 4-digit Harmonized System (HS) product category to third markets by about 1.5 to 2 percent. The magnitude of the spillover effect varies systematically with product characteristics as implied by theory.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: China