Jeffrey Frankel, 27 January 2016

The Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index has dropped substantially in the past few months. China’s growth rate has also slowed. This column argues that the slowdown of the Chinese economy has little to do with the stock exchange, and is mostly due to economic forces. The author recommends a package of policies that need to be implemented to smooth the transition to a sustainable growth rate. 

Olivier Blanchard, 18 January 2016

The world economy at the start of 2016 is a genuinely confusing place, with stock markets plummeting. This column discusses the mainstream narratives behind this – China and the oil price dip – and finds them wanting. The economic linkages seem too weak to justify the gyrations. Instead, they may be the result of herding or a delayed reaction to the global economy’s lower-for-long growth prospects.

Konstantins Benkovskis, Julia Woerz, 14 January 2016

Global value chains have increased the complexity of good economic analysis no end. This column assess the extent to which global value chains change how we think about the world, and argues that the evolution of global market shares is no longer an adequate indicator of a country’s competitiveness in most cases. ‘Made in China’ has changed almost everything.

Keting Shen, Jing Wang, John Whalley, 05 January 2016

Many argue that China has had a higher total factor productivity growth rate than India and the US since the late 1970s. This column assesses changes in China’s technology gaps between both the US and India from 1979 to 2008 with a constant elasticity of substitution production framework. The calculations suggest that the technology gap between China and the US was significantly larger than that between India and the US for the period before 2008.

Hiau Looi Kee, Heiwai Tang, 09 December 2015

While domestic content in exports has been declining globally, the opposite trend has been observed in China. This column argues that this is mainly due to the structural transformation and FDI liberalisation in the country since 2000. As a result, individual processing exporters have substituted domestic for imported materials, both in terms of volume and varieties. These results indicate that China has become more competitive, particularly in the intermediate input sectors, which supports its ascent along the global value chains.

Yana Jin, Mu Quan, Chiara Ravetti, Zhang Shiqiu, Timothy Swanson, 02 December 2015

Many cities in China have notoriously high levels of air pollution. Given its tight control over the media, the Chinese government has a high degree of control over public information about air quality. This column explores the government’s incentive to downplay the seriousness of pollution spikes. Households that rely exclusively on public media are found to engage in less self-protective behaviours. This could lead to substantial public health costs in the long run that might otherwise have been avoided.

Jiangtao Fu, Daichi Shimamoto, Yasuyuki Todo, 01 December 2015

It has been widely argued that firms obtain loans with relaxed terms if they are politically connected. This column presents evidence from Indonesia that firms whose owners or directors have a personal relationship with a politician are more likely to have their loans approved by state-owned banks, and are more likely to receive the full amount applied for. However, the labour productivity of such firms is on average lower. This suggests that in some cases, politically connected lending may distort the efficiency of resource allocation and be detrimental to economic development.

Angus Armstrong, Francesco Caselli, Jagjit Chadha, Wouter den Haan, 27 November 2015

Economists often disagree on China’s prospects. This column provides the results from a survey of top UK-based macroeconomists by the Centre for Macroeconomics (CFM). It turns out that three quarters of the experts believe that China’s annual growth rate will be less than 6% over the next ten years or so. But the panel is divided on whether the slowdown will have a significant impact on the UK economy.

Meredith Crowley, Huasheng Song, 22 October 2015

Europe has a trade policy for solar panels that is designed to level the playing field between Europe and countries like China. This column assesses the EU’s stance. Antidumping policy is supposed to promote a fair competitive environment between domestic import-competing and foreign exporting firms. However, evidence suggests that publicly listed Chinese private sector firms experienced large losses under Europe's import restrictions, while state-owned enterprises experienced little or no adverse impact. Rather than fostering fair competition in green energy products, Europeans have unintentionally tilted the playing field against the Chinese private sector in favour of the state.

Maurice Obstfeld, 17 October 2015

In this column, the IMF's new Economic Counsellor and Director of Research presents the latest World Economic Outlook, which shows how the world economy is at the intersection of at least three powerful forces. First is China’s economic transformation away from export- and investment-led growth and manufacturing, in favour of a greater focus on consumption and services; second is the fall in commodity prices; and third is the impending normalisation of monetary policy in the US.

Anton Cheremukhin, Mikhail Golosov, Sergei Guriev, Aleh Tsyvinski, 02 September 2015

Economists tend to focus on reforms that came after 1979 when explaining China’s soaring economic growth. This column argues that they shouldn’t. Mao’s policies also had a huge effect and should not be ignored. Economists and policymakers would do well to look further back in history. A long-term perspective might also help them bust a few myths along the way.

Chun Chang, Kaiji Chen, Daniel Waggoner, Tao Zha, 01 August 2015

China’s spectacular growth over the 2000s has slowed since 2013. The driving force behind the country’s growth was investment, so the key to understanding the slowdown lies in understanding what sustained investment in the past. This column shows how a preferential credit policy promoting heavy industrialisation explains the trends and cycles in China’s macroeconomy over the past two decades. This policy was not without negative consequences, particularly in terms of the distortions it introduced for business finance. Going forward, China needs to focus on creating the right incentives for banks to make loans to small productive businesses.

John Gibson, Chao Li, 23 July 2015

The size of cities in China – and the effects of city size on productivity – are important topics for urban economists. This column argues that the data used in many previous studies of Chinese cities do not stand up to scrutiny because they do not take nearly enough workers into account. More comprehensive data on city employment from China’s 2010 census suggest that there are lots of inefficiently small cities.

Sourafel Girma, Yundan Gong, Holger Görg, Sandra Lancheros, Christiane Krieger-Boden, 24 July 2015

In the run-up to WTO accession in 2001, China considerably liberalised its policy towards FDI. This column argues that foreign acquisitions contributed significantly to raising export activities and R&D activities, though rather through joint ventures than whole acquisitions.

Johan Hombert, Adrien Matray, 11 July 2015

The rise of China has been identified as a major source of disruption for the manufacturing sector in high-income economies. This column argues that innovation helps firms to escape import competition from low-wage countries. It uses variation in R&D tax credits across years and US states to show that firms' R&D capital stock has a causal effect on their resilience to trade shocks.

Matthew Kahn, Cong Sun, Siqi Zheng, 08 July 2015

China’s cities suffer from extremely high levels of air pollution, and Chinese consumers spend more than $US100 million on anti-smog products per year. Using recent internet sales data, this column explores how investing in such self-protection products varies for consumers with different income brackets. The urban poor are shown to be less likely to engage in this health-improving strategy. This suggests that cross-sectional income comparisons understate lifetime inequality.

Bernard Hoekman, 24 June 2015

The world’s trade-to-GDP ratio climbed steadily for six decades. The rise slowed even before the Global Crisis and world trade growth has been anaemic since 2010. Recent data shows it declining, leading some to wonder whether global trade has peaked. This column introduces a new eBook that examines the issue from a wide range of perspectives. No consensus emerges but it is clear that this is not just a cyclical issue – something structural changed. 

Ryuhei Wakasugi, 02 June 2015

The Chinese government significantly restructured and modernised its economy to gain WTO accession in December 2001. This column examines how WTO entry affected different types of firms. It finds that both private and State-owned firms became more productive after WTO entry yet these productivity gains did not translate into a higher propensity to export for State-owned enterprises.

Christopher Adam, Ugo Panizza, Andrea Presbitero, David Vines, 12 May 2015

World leaders are preparing for the third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis. More money may help, but may also make things worse due to aid dependence, Dutch disease, and/or unsustainable debt. This column argues that the political discussion needs to be accompanied by more, and better data and research on how financing can support sustainable development.

Joshua Aizenman, Yothin Jinjarak, Huanhuan Zheng, 04 May 2015

China’s export-led growth has coincided with the country becoming one of the largest net global creditors. This column looks ahead to the next chapter of Chinese ‘outwards mercantilism’ – FDI investment in natural resources, commodities and mining bundled with access to finance and the export of Chinese capital products and labour services.