et ready for another scary forecast from Nouriel Roubini, the economist from New York University, who predicted the U.S. housing meltdown that precipitated the worldwide financial crisis. According to Roubini, China's boom is being fueled by an unsustainable level of investment, and so the country faces a "meaningful probability" of a hard economic landing that could send shockwaves around the globe. But many market analysts disagree, saying that China could thrive even if it slows way down from its 10 percent annual growth rate. is Roubini right again or is the famed market bear letting his pessimism cloud his judgment?
China has a lot more growth ahead: Roubini's "dire warnings are at odds" with what businesses sending raw materials to China will tell you, says Nick Trevethan at Reuters. About 200 million Chinese — or two-thirds the population of the U.S. — have moved from the countryside to cities since 2000. If that trend continues, China will have to crank out houses, offices, and household goods as fast as it can, hardly the recipe for a crash.
"China boom, not Roubini gloom"
Roubin's not the only one souring on China: As the economist points out, "over-investment invariably ends in a hard landing," says Nick Ferguson at Finance Asia, and investment accounts for a whopping 50 percent of China's gross domestic product. It would be easier to dismiss Roubini's dire predictions if he were alone, but rating agencies are starting to sound alarm bells, too. "China has made it this far thanks to good luck and plentiful supplies of cash." When both run out, look out below.
"Protecting China's future"
Actually, the real danger is that China will keep soaring: The fears that China will nosedive are "overblown," says Zachary Karabell at TIME. In fact, "we would be well-served to consider an opposite risk: That China doesn’t slow, that it continues to plow ahead more quickly than most in the West believe possible." If "the history of the United States and its economic emergence is any guide," that could be the real game-changer.
"Hard or soft landing for China? How about no landing"
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