Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Chinese hoarding?

Macro Man has a bunch of fascinating charts about Chinese commodity imports by volume.  It looks like they stocked up while things were on sale.  This would also explain the dramatic recent rise in the Baltic Dry index, which would be less about global trade to the end user recovering, and more about the logistics of trying to import twice as much iron ore as they did last year.  This is as decisively inconclusive as all macro data, but is suggestive nevertheless. 

Maybe China is using the opportunity to buy itself some time to move towards a more consumer economy.  They might blunt the slowdown in exports by keeping everyone employed building new capacity while gradually redistributing enough income so that people can eventually afford to buy the products they are gearing up to make for themselves.  If the Chinese leadership is genius and not too greedy, they may actually manage to pole-vault into the first world very rapidly.  Color me still skeptical, but they do seem to be rather clever monkeys. 

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