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A Downward Economic Performance within a Moderate Range Is Acceptable



By Wu Qing

According to the data about China’s economic performance in the first half of this year released by China Statistics Bureau last week, the total GDP in the second quarter, the added value of industrial enterprises above designated scale, the reduction of unsold homes, and the aggregate volume of import and export all showed a better year-on-year performance, and it seems that economy has been put back on the path of sound growth. However, another set of data shows that the growth rate of private fixed asset investment dropped to 2.8% in the first half of the year. China’s economic development has been dependent on and will continue to rely on investment, and the decline in the growth of private investment indicates a further slowing down in economic growth.

Changes in short-term economic indicators cannot influence our approach towards the mid- and long-run trend of economic performance, that is, in the context of fading away of cost advantage, traditional economic growth mode has come to an end, and economic transformation is irresistible. During the critical period of transforming the economic development pattern, change of the growth rate of China’s economy is decided by the difference between the new driving force brought by economic transformation and the decline of traditional engine of economic development.

In the second half of 2016, the major task for economic development is to maintain a steady growth. Approaches toward maintaining a steady growth can be divided into two types: the first type is to slow down the decline of traditional engine of economic development, and another one is to accelerate the development of new economic driving force. These two approaches are fundamentally different, and their difference in the effects of economic development in the long run will also be prominent.

Due to the limitation of total volume of the resources in the hands of the government, if the government puts in more resources to slow down the decline of traditional engine of economic development, resources invested in accelerating the birth of new economic growth momentum will inevitably be less. Similarly, the total volume of resources of the whole society is limited. Economic transformation means that resources exit from enterprises and industries that have lost competitiveness and are put into those with competence. In line with the process, the performance of GDP will present a bottom-out curve.

Such being the case, further dip of economic growth rate must be accepted. If new economic growth momentum develops fast, the bottom-out curve will be V-shaped; otherwise, it will be U-shaped. If new economic growth momentum does not come into being, the result waiting for us will be nothing but a middle-income trap.


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