Fading hype about China, India

Three decades ago, former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, then chief economist of the World Bank, characterized the end of the Cold War as well as the opening of the Chinese and Indian economies as the most important events in global history. When China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001

, grand predictions were made, including how it would make it a more politically liberal country. Decades later, so much hype gathering velocity and volume in a narrative loop from Wall Street to Washington and Davos and back appears hopelessly wrong. ‘Chindiya’, The Chinese Century, the possibility that India could form the world’s largest middle class and the prediction that the Chinese renminbi would become the world’s reserve currency with the US dollar now sound like comic science-fiction.

Last week was symbolic. The People’s Republic launched its first domestically designed aircraft carrier. Fujian isn’t so subtly named after the Chinese province facing Taiwan, it’s just another sign that Beijing will militarily flex its muscles in the 21st century. If an attempt is made to occupy Taiwan by force, shock waves for the world economy, even transmitted through our reliance on both countries for semiconductors, will be brought to us by the terrible and futile invasion of Russia. Will make you indifferent to the disturbances that have occurred. Ukraine. Meanwhile, India threatened to sabotage the WTO meeting before better understanding could be achieved. New Delhi Whether running a Congress-led government or the Bharatiya Janata Party, our trade negotiation strategy keeps observers everywhere happy and concerned, not least because we damage both multilateral trade and our economy.

Some of the ‘India’ folly was based on an extrapolation of growth rates in the early 2000s, which made no sense as large emerging economies also viewed their economic growth as slowing, though some dramatically characterized as India’s slowdown. In the U.S., our quarterly GDP growth rate falls below 4% before the pandemic. About a decade ago, Summers and fellow Harvard economist Lent Pritchett pooh-pooh-poohed what they called “asiaphoria.” He predicted that it is more likely that Chinese and Indian GDP growth rates will approach the global average over the years. Other predictions happily ignored the weak institutions, centralization of power and interference in the economy that characterize both Beijing and New Delhi.

China can claim to be at least as far ahead in global manufacturing as it was expected to be. Harnessing the talents of Hong Kong and Taiwanese businessmen who brought management skills and quality control to Chinese factories since China opened four decades ago, it now accounts for one-fifth of global manufacturing exports. However, its role in global financial markets is minor. While former Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji did a brilliant job of raising billions of dollars by using US investment banks and global capital markets to list and modernize heavy and inefficient Chinese state-owned enterprises since the late 1990s, global There has been an integration of China into the financial markets. Half-hearted case. Like Henry Kissinger, former Goldman Sachs chief Henry Paulson Jr. has long been a cheerleader for Beijing. In his 2015 memoir, he compared the role of Western bankers in China to the Greek mythological figure who set the world on fire.

This week, analyst and writer Ruchir Sharma put aside such absurd hype about China’s role in global financial markets. The renminbi, he noted, is “a meager three percent of global central bank reserves.” It is so high as to become a reserve currency as the dollar declines. “Since 2015, the share of renminbi payments through the SWIFT network for international bank transactions has fallen by a fifth, from an already negligible level to less than three percent,” Sharma wrote in The Financial Times. “A widely followed index that ranks 165 countries by capital account openness places China at 106.”

India has faced similar disappointment in opening up enough to allow a vast labor force to be a factory and alternative to China to the world. While we have created an epicentry in software exports, which help pay our huge oil import bills, our share of global merchandise exports, less than 2%, reflects China’s lack of progress in its currency. For a bit of a player in the global freight trade, we at the WTO punch less than our weight. This month, New Delhi emphasized how “traditional fishermen’s life in India has been intertwined with the oceans and seas since ancient times.” Despite ancient wisdom, many business gurus struggle to understand our position. India’s threat of ending the 24-year moratorium on tariffs on digital trade was even more shocking, as it would undermine our comparative advantage in software.

The cost of not engaging enough with the global trading system and the low tariffs of our Asian neighbors while the grandiose at the WTO is evident in our one-sided labor market, which as Vietnam has enough for women (and men) The factory does not create jobs. And Bangladesh has managed to do. Since 2017-18, the absolute number of agricultural workers in India has increased by more than 40 million, although the economic emergence should have meant a decline. Instead of the world’s largest middle class, we have the world’s largest number of subsistence workers with few other options. There’s a deadline to capitalize on our demographic dividend, it turns out we’ve sadly missed.

Rahul Jacob is a Mint columnist and a former foreign correspondent for the Financial Times.

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