De toestand en toekomst van de wereldeconomie

Door Redactie

13 mei 2005

Twee weken geleden publiceerde een interessant artikel van Stefan Karlsson over de toestand en toekomst van de wereldeconomie. De wereldeconomie groeide het afgelopen jaar zo'n vijf procent, voornamelijk door de opkomst van China en andere Derde Wereldlanden. De groei wordt gestuurd door twee factoren, een positieve en een negatieve: de zich steeds verder uitbreidende wereldwijde arbeidsverdeling aan de ene kant, en het 'goedkoop geld'- rentebeleid van de (Amerikaanse) Centrale Bank.

Karlsson analyseert de toestand en toekomst van de wereldeconomie door zich te richten op de vier economische grootmachten die hij respectievelijk behandelt: de Verenigde Staten, Europa, Japan en China.

Daar de VS nog altijd een relatief vrije economie en daarnaast goede financiele markten en instituties heeft, ziet de toekomst er niet slecht uit:

'Despite the best efforts of various American politicians to destroy these advantages, it will likely remain a positive factor for the next few years.'
Maar Karlsson verwacht wel een recessie op de korte of middellange termijn omdat het rentebeleid nog steeds laag, er een groot begrotingstekort en ook een huizenbubbel is, en dus de oorzaken van eerdere recessies nog niet zijn weggenomen.

Over Europa is Karlsson veel minder positief:
The reasoning behind ECB's false reputation as a hard money bastion seems to be the false syllogism of "weak growth is the result of tight monetary policy. Europe has weak growth. Therefore Europe must have a tight monetary policy." But as the first premise is false, so is the conclusion of the syllogism.

Instead the cause of Europe's weak growth has two, to a high extent connected, roots. One, its high government spending and regulatory burden which is far more burdensome than in America and China. And second, the rapidly aging population in Europe as a whole and particularly in Germany and Italy.

The one bright spot for Europe is the inclusion of the fairly free market–oriented East European economies whose tax rates are very low not only compared to Western Europe but also compared to the United States. Not surprisingly this has led to very fast economic growth. And as the East European countries have become a part of the EU they will prop up overall growth. Moreover the increased tax competition from Eastern Europe has already started to prompt some West European countries to lower taxes, particularly corporate income taxes, which will boost their competitiveness.'
China daarentegen is volgens Karlsson een paradijs voor kapitalisten:
There is every reason to believe that China will continue its extraordinary growth rate for at least the coming decade. With no welfare state, no labor unions and an enormous supply of both labor and savings, "communist" China is a capitalist's paradise. And as is evident in the success of ethnic Chinese businesses in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and the rest of South East Asia, the Chinese have a strong entrepreneurial spirit. And with communism no longer suppressing this, the potential for growth is enormous.

While estimates of the number of farmers in China vary greatly depending on whom you ask, even the lowest estimates reckon that at least half of China's 1.3 billion people are still farmers. If the relative size of the agricultural sector falls to western levels this means that more than 600 million people will be heading for employment in the industrial and service sectors. And 600 million is twice as many as the population of the United States.

Combine that with the fact that China has perhaps the highest savings rate in the world and thus will be able to make the investments necessary to continue its high growth rate. As The Economist disapprovingly noted, this high savings rate is to a large extent caused by the lack of a welfare state since this forces people to save if they wish to have enough money to for example pay medical bills.
Japan, tenslotte, blijft kwetsbaar:
Japan was for a long time the rising star in the world economy, greatly outperforming both Europe and America. But after the great stock- and real estate bubble in Japan in the late 1980s crashed, the Japanese economy has been stagnating with growth rates even lower than in Europe.

This has been largely because the banking system has been inhibited by the great mass of bad loans. The Japanese authorities have been unwilling to take on the short-term pain associated with liquidating the bad loans and have instead gotten a prolonged stagnation. Japan also shares many of Europe's problems.

While Japan has a much lighter tax burden than Europe, its regulatory burden is, if anything, worse. And the inflexible economic structure created by the high regulatory burden has made the reallocation of resources from the inefficient companies created by the inflationary boom more difficult than in America. For this reason the high regulatory burden creates much more of a problem for Japan now than it did before 1990.
Lees verder.