Friday, January 02, 2009

Quote of the Day

"One consequence of the financial crisis will inevitably be capital outflows from developing countries. The necessary corollary of capital outflows is trade surpluses. Without running a trade surplus no country can consistently support capital outflows...This is just another way of saying that a lot of developing countries that had been running trade deficits will soon be, if they aren’t already, running trade surpluses. Instead of contributing their net demand to the world economy, as they had via their trade deficits, they will now be contributing their net supply...This will not help the world imbalances. The biggest contributors of net demand are the US and non-Germany Europe, and both of these regions are seeing a rapid decline in their net demand contribution (i.e. their trade deficits are expected to shrink). To adjust to this decline the world needs new sources of net demand or else global production must contract sharply via factory closings and rising unemployment. But the largest net supply country, China, is increasing its export of net supply (its trade surplus has been rising) while several trade deficit countries in Asian and elsewhere are switching to trade surplus or otherwise trying to reduce their deficits...This cannot be sustainable. We cannot expect production to rise while consumption declines except if it comes with a dangerous rise in forced investment (also known as inventory). The crisis cannot even begin to be considered in its final stages until this issue is resolved."
Michael Pettis, Professor at Peking University's Guanghua School of Management.

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