The rise of China over the past couple of decades has been quite relentless. Year after year the Chinese economy has grown, year after year Chinese commercial influence has expanded. Sino-sceptics point to the apparently rigged exchange rate between the Yuan and the US Dollar as the source of China’s financial might – the origins of the huge currency reserves – which has un-balanced the world economy.
The US would like China to allow the appreciation of the Yuan faster than it is currently appreciating. The Chinese government is reluctant to do so, fearing the political consequences of a slowing in the growth machine. However, this does create another problem in its wake. A high Yuan may help Chinese employment, but it also hinders the attempts of the Chinese government to keep a lid on domestic inflation.
China imports many of its raw materials. The weight of Chinese purchases in global markets has given rise to demand led price inflation for those resources – from food to metals to oil. This is starting to push an inflationary spiral in China. Normally, governments would counter an inflationary spiral by raising interest rates and allowing the exchange rate of the currency to appreciate. This policy has effectively been discarded.
The policy is to do nothing. Normally this is not a bad option, but in this case it might not be. If inflation takes root, then it could become as equally destabilising as rising unemployment. The prospect of an impoverished middle class is just as unattractive as the prospect of an unemployed middle class. However, this fuse is burning slowly. We are unlikely to see great change in the near term, but in the longer term this is a problem that will have to be dealt with.
In the meantime, we should note that the “China Price” is rising.© The European Futures Observatory 2011
Price rises in China: Inflated fears | The Economist