How China should rule the world
FT: How China should rule the world
China surely recognises that the accumulation of huge official claims on “safe” foreign liabilities must be matched by a corresponding supply. Unfortunately, the demand is now met via destabilising fiscal and external deficits in the US. China could help itself by accelerating liberalisation of capital outflows and increasing exchange rate flexibility.
Furthermore, China needs to develop a strategy for reform of the global monetary system that fits with its interests in managing the interface between its domestic development and global stability. One desirable move would be towards co-ordination of exchange rate management with other export-oriented emerging economies. It is also in China’s interests to secure a pragmatic accommodation with its partners in the discussions within the Group of 20 leading economies. This should focus on indicators of disequilibrium, methods of adjustment and liquidity provision for countries in difficulties.
As for finance, China’s objectives must be: first, to create a domestic system capable of supporting its own economic development; second, to help promote a global system that supports a tolerably stable world economy; and, third, to protect the former from the excesses of the latter. In achieving this difficult reconciliation China’s policies should be guided by the understanding that, in the long run, its financial system will be the hub of global finance. Yet the transition to full integration will be not only lengthy but also complex and fraught, with full integration of banking particularly dangerous.
Finally, let us look at access to resources. For the first time in its long history, China is dependent on access to imports of industrial raw materials. It is already the world’s largest importer of most raw materials. For China, policy in this area is of potentially the highest importance. Its immediate interest is to gain access to the world’s resources on favourable terms. It has decided, quite reasonably, to use its cheap capital and labour to secure this end. That is not only in China’s own interests but in those of other consumers. Since resources have global prices, any increase in supply is to the benefit of all consumers.
Nevertheless, it would be helpful if a consensus could be reached on the terms of investment and trade in natural resources. One aim should be to ensure that commodity-exporting countries – particularly poor ones, with limited capacity for governance – benefit from foreign investment and exports of natural resources. China will be a central player in securing such agreements. Above all, the world needs to agree that the underlying principle must remain those of free trade in open world markets. Prices need to be set in global competition, with, of course, the possibility of long-term contracts.
As China grows, its impact on the world expands exponentially. It must reconcile the imperatives of its rapid development with the need to take full account of its impact on the world. It will have to develop its own agenda, one that secures its linked objectives of rapid development at home and stability abroad. It will not be easy. China has no alternative.
submitted by dan fey