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Friday, May 14, 2004

The great fall of China? via Economist

China's economy is growing too fast for comfort, and the country's leaders know it. In recent weeks they have promised forceful measures to cool things down, but it is not clear what they will or can do. Rumours are rife that China's central bank may raise interest rates for the first time in nine years.If China's soaring economy has a hard landing, the rest of the world will feel the bump.During the past three years China has accounted for one-third of global economic growth (measured at purchasing-power parity), twice as much as America. In the past year, China's official GDP growth rate has surged to 9.7%. Even this may underestimate the true rate, which some economists reckon was as high as 13%.China's scorching growth has helped to prop up other economies by sucking in imports, which surged by 40% last year alone. While America's industrial output has shrunk over the past three years, China's has increased by almost 50%. As a result, its demand for commodities has skyrocketed, driving up prices. Last year it consumed 40% of the world's output of cement. It also accounted for one-third of the growth in global oil consumption, 90% of the growth in world steel demand, and more than the whole of the increase in copper demand. If China's economy slows sharply, commodity prices will fall everywhere, especially hurting producers in countries such as Russia, Brazil and Australia, which have gained so handsomely from China's boom.

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