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Boom and burst

Boom and burst
Don’t be fooled by false signs of economic recovery. It’s just the lull before the storm

Barry:  Andy Xie is a former Morgan Stanley economist now living in China; The following is from the South China Morning Post:

By Andy Xie, in South China Morning Post

Posted by Barry Ritholtz at The Big Picture

The A-share market is collapsing again, like many times before. It takes numerous government policies and "expert" opinions to entice ignorant retail investors into the market but just a few days to send them packing. As greed has the upper hand in Chinese society, the same story repeats itself time and again.

A stock market bubble is a negative-sum game. It leads to distortion in resource allocation and, hence, net losses. The redistribution of the remainder, moreover, isn’t entirely random. The government, of course, always wins. It pockets stamp duty revenue and the proceeds of initial public offerings of state-owned enterprises in cash. And, the listed companies seldom pay dividends.

The truly random part for the redistribution among speculators is probably 50 cents on the dollar. The odds are quite similar to that from playing the lottery. Every stock market cycle makes Chinese people poorer. The system takes advantage of their opportunism and credulity to collect money for the government and to enrich the few.

I am not sure this bubble that began six months ago is truly over…

This bubble will truly burst in the fourth quarter when the economy shows signs of slowing again. Land prices will start to decline, which is of more concern than the collapse of the stock market, as local governments depend on land sales for revenue. The present economic “recovery” began in February as inventories were restocked and was pushed up by the spillover from the asset market revival. These two factors cannot be sustained beyond the third quarter. When the market sees the second dip looming, panic will be more intense and thorough.

The US will enter this second dip in the first quarter of next year. Its economic recovery in the second half of this year is being driven by inventory restocking and fiscal stimulus.

However, US households have lost their love for borrow-and-spend for good. American household demand won’t pick up when the temporary growth factors run out of steam. By the middle of the second quarter next year, most of the world will have entered the second dip. But, by then, financial markets will have collapsed…

The final crash will come when the Fed raises the interest rate to 5 per cent or more. Most think that when the Fed does this, the global economy will be strong and, hence, exports would do well and bring in money to keep up asset markets. Unfortunately, this is not how our story will end this time. The growth model of the past two decades – Americans borrow and spend; Chinese lend and export – is broken for good. Policymakers have been busy stimulating, rather than reforming, in desperate attempts to bring growth back. The massive increase in money supplies around the world will spur inflation through commodity-market speculation and inflation expectations in wage setting. We are not in the midst of a new boom. We are at the last stage of the Greenspan bubble. It ends with stagflation…

Read the full article here at Barry’s site.  If you register, the article can be read in the South China Morning Post.

Boom and burst
Don’t be fooled by false signs of economic recovery. It’s just the lull before the storm
Andy Xie
South China Morning Post Aug 24, 2009
 

 


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