Just in case you’re wondering if things are any better in China just becasue they make things while earning a slave wage, think again!
Over the past week one of the more hotly debated and market moving topics was the resurgence of speculation that China may be on the verge of a “hard landing.” To a large extent this was driven by renewed concerns that the country’s debt load, especially at the local government level, will be a substantially greater hindrance to growth and hence, concern than previously thought. This was paralleled by concerns that Chinese growth will likely slow down substantially more than previously expected, even as inflation remains stubbornly high. The result: a move wider in Chinese CDS in the past week whose severity was matched only by a similar move around the time of Lehman, when the world was widely seen as ending. Concerns that delusions about decoupling are precisely that (courtesy of 3 out of 4 BRICs printing a contractionary sub-50 ISM also led to the biggest drop in the Hang Seng index since 2001, after it tumbled 22% in Q3 as fears that a Chinese slow down would impact all developing economies with an emphasis on East Asia. Yet if a Hard Landing is all it took to disturb the precarious balance in which China always somehow always ride off into the sunset having rescued the entire world, we wonder what would happen if the market started expressing concerns that a Hard Landing is the optimistic case, and nothing short of a Crash Landing may be the baseline. Because according to the Economist, which informs us of a very troubling development out of China in which foreigners may be about to face a new entitlement funding tax for all domestic workers beginning October 15, and hence a surge in overall labor costs, then a “Crash Landing” may well be in the cards for the world’s biggest marginal economy.