Charles Hugh Smith – Corruption isn’t just bribes and influence-peddling: it’s protecting the privileges of the few at the expense of the many. Rampant pollution is corruption writ large: the profits of the polluters are being protected at the expense of the millions being poisoned.
This is why capital and talent are fleeing China: systemic corruption has poisoned the nation and raised the cost of doing business. External costs such as environmental damage must be paid eventually, one way or the other.
Either the cost is paid in rising chronic illnesses, shorter lifespans and declining productivity, or profits and tax revenues must be siphoned off to clean up the damage and the sources of environmental degradation.
In large-scale industrial economies such as China and the U.S., that cost is measured not in billions of dollars but in hundreds of billions of dollars over a long period of time.
I have often noted that one key reason why the U.S. economy stagnated in the 1970s was the enormous external costs of runaway industrialization were finally paid in reduced profits and higher taxes.
China’s manufacturing base simply isn’t profitable enough to pay for the remedial clean-up and pollution controls needed to make China livable. That means labor and all the other sectors will have to pay the costs via higher taxes.
Pollution and environmental damage is driving away human capital, i.e. talent.This loss of talent is difficult to quantify, but it’s not just foreigners who have worked in China for years who are pulling up stakes to escape pollution and repression–talented young Chinese are finding jobs elsewhere for the same reasons.
The game-changer is automation, i.e. robots and software eating the world. To understand the impact on China, let’s start with unit labor costs, i.e. the cost of labor needed to produce each unit of output. Continue reading →
On the one hand many expressed surprise that their holdings were “so high,” on the other hand, those who have been watching the flood of gold move from west to east in the last four years are well aware that the figures given by the PBOC did not disclose all of China’s gold holdings but merely those holdings that needed to be declared for the purposes of joining the IMF.
Yet again China was turned down by the IMF and treated like a third class citizen of the world in spite of the fact that China is one of the world’s leading economies. In recent years China has joined the BRICS development bankand formed the AIIBfor the purposes of creating investment banks that will service development in Russia, India, Africa and South America and the planned Silk Road Project, a project of massive proportions that will include the whole of Eurasia in trade and commerce with an arterial system of fast speed rail that will eventually connect Beijing and Lisbon. Continue reading →
Charles Hugh Smith – It’s tempting to see similarities in last week’s global stock market mini-crash and the monumental meltdown that almost took down the Global Financial System in 2008-2009. The dizzying drop invites comparison to the last Bear Market that took the S&P 500 from 1,565 in October 2007 to 667 on March 9, 2009.
But this Bear is beginning in circumstances quite different from 2007-08. Let’s list a few of the differences:
1. Then: Markets and central banks feared inflation, as WTIC oil had hit $133 per barrel in the summer of 2008. Now: As oil tests the $40/barrel level, markets and central banks fear deflation.
2. Then: China had a relatively modest $7 trillion in total debt, considerably less than 100% of GDP. now: China’s debt has quadrupled from $7 trillion in 2007 to $28 trillion as of mid-2014, an astonishing 282% of gross domestic product (GDP)
3. Then: Central banks had a full toolbox of unprecedented monetary surprises to unleash on the market: TARP, TARF, BARF (OK, that one is made up) rescue packages and credit guarantees, quantitative easing (QE), zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) and direct purchases of mortgages, to name just the top few. Now: The central bank toolbox is empty: every tool has already been deployed on an unprecedented scale. Every potential new program is simply a retread of QE, yield curve bending, asset purchases, etc.–the same old bag of tricks.
4. Then: Central banks had a relatively clean slate to work with. Interventions in the market and economy were limited to suppressing interest rates in the post-dot-com meltdown era. Now: Central banks have never stopped intervening since 2008. The market is in effect a reflection of 6+ years of unprecedented central bank interventions. Rather than a clean slate, central banks face a global marketplace that is dominated by incentives to speculate with leveraged/borrowed money established by 6 years of central bank policies. Continue reading →
The consensus was reached when Fan Changlong, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission and Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan met with visiting Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak.
During the meeting, Fan hailed frequent high-level military exchanges between the countries, vowing to deepen military ties. Continue reading →
SGT Report – What may go down as the biggest geopolitical false flag event since 9/11, the Tianjin, China explosions will remain a critical topic of conversation for some time because the Chinese government still cannot determine what caused the blast the melted more than 8,000 cars, multiple buildings and the deaths of more than 110 people, with 90 still missing and presumed dead. Bill Holter asks the question we have all been thinking, was it a tactical nuclear strike? Coming just a day or two after China’s devaluation of the Yuan, was the horrific blast which left a 3 acre crater in its path, as sign of what’s to come if China fully abandons the Dollar? It is rapidly becoming clear that something unconventional happened in Tianjin – which leads to the inevitable question: Has the monetary war gone nuclear?
Did The FINAL WAR Between China And US Cabal Just Start?
The question of our title is very important, “Did the FINAL WAR just start?”. If you polled Americans on this question, 99.9% would answer “no” if you took out the Middle East. Last week I wrote “The Rumblings of War” regarding the IMF rebuffing China’s entry into the SDR. This was followed up by “The shot heard ’round the world” on Tuesday commenting on China’s surprise devaluation. The purpose of this writing is to show you YES, we are in fact at war!
Charles Hugh Smith – In terms of profitability and trade-generated wealth China is a hollow dragon.
It is widely assumed that manufacturing (a.k.a. the world’s workshop) is the source of China’s wealth. But how can this be true, given that manufacturing profit margins are razor-thin in China, and have been since the early 2000s?
Given that as little as $10 of the value of every iPhone or iPad actually ends up in the Chinese economy, how can anyone claim manufacturing has generated enormous profits?
Analysts differ over how much of the final price of an iPhone or an iPad should be assigned to what country, but no one disputes that the largest slice should go not to China but to the United States. That intellectual property, along with the marketing, is the largest source of the iPhone’s value.
Taking these facts into account would leave China, the supposed country of origin, with a paltry piece of the pie. Analysts estimate that as little as $10 of the value of every iPhone or iPad actually ends up in the Chinese economy, in the form of income paid directly to Foxconn or other contractors.
Foreign funded enterprises (FFEs–typically joint ventures between a foreign firm and a domestic Chinese company) dominate Chinese manufacturing. In the 2000s, the share of industrial machinery exports produced by FFEs grew from 35 percent to 79 percent. In computer equipment, FFEs’ share rose from 74 percent to 92 percent. Continue reading →