Thursday, December 30, 2010

Although Double Dip Recession is Expected and Numbers Justify it, I still don't believe in it.

Yesterday's Housing report sent shock wave in economists in US and there are more and more people saying about Double Dip Recession. Graph Below clearly shows direction towards south in Home Prices.

US Housing Price Graph in % Change.  Ref :

In India, Graph Below shows Interest Rates rising again towards "Previous Crash" level. So definitely it's another number supporting recession.

India Interest Rates Chart
In China, Interest Rates have started going towards North, and there are reports of Real Estate crash already.

China Interest Rate Chart.

With all these Data many are already concluding that we are entering in Phase 5, 6, 7 of economic cycle and Hence Recession !!! 

However I don't believe that Recession is underway because in western world despite Stimulus, Inflation level has not been out of hand. This will give a clear license to Central Banks to have another Rounds of Quantitative Easing / have more easing under current QEII or Simply Allow banks to lend freely. In emerging markets there may not be Stimulate. And they may raise interest rates in "baby steps", Carry Trade (i.e. borrowing money from places where interest rate is low, and investing in other country) will keep liquidity high.

In 2011 / 2012 time frame I think governments across world will be busy in stimulating economies further and convince people by steps like..

1) Raising Minimum wage.
2) Encouraging Employers for Higher wages to counter higher living prices.
3) Never increasing Interest rates aggressively enough to allow bubbles blast.
4) Ask people to compromise on "Prices vs Unemployment".
5) Redefine Comfort Level of Price Index .. e.g 2 is considered as OK in US they will say let's have 5 as OK. in India 5.5 is considered as "Comfortable Level" They may say Let's have 8 as Comfortable level.
6) Asking banks to resume lending activity more generously to help economy grow again.
7) Keep on telling people that as prices are increasing, so will your wages and everything will be normal.
8) Keep on telling people that it's temporary and everything will be fine soon. 
9) At some stage when inflation goes beyond control they will introduce "Price Control" i.e. to restrict food / essential commodities at government control prices.

Concluding central banks and Governments will Prevent Double Dip. Instead by resuming Lending, they can give very good results in short to mid term of course for Wall Street !! .

It will be however very interesting to see how countries like Germany / Singapore react to all this. There is a very good chance that they may opt for entirely different path towards austerity.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Ball is in China’s Court. Part 1

Last month I was in my home place in India. While traveling, an article in Times of India (leading Indian News Paper) caught my attention. Article was about CBSE Board (One of the Key Educational System) introducing Chinese Language (Mandarin) in Schools. In article it was clearly mentioned that looking into growing economic importance of China, Mr. Vineet Joshi Chairman of the board has decided to introduce Mandarin in schools.

I was happy to read that article. Breaking the barriers of conventional way of education i.e. Local Language + Hindi (India’s National Language) + English, CBSE board decided to go for Mandarin. Obviously China's growth story deserves this attention. Recently China developed a train that can run at 262 Miles per hours (Fastest in World). It's developing Aircrafts now, There are huge number of patents  by Chinese Scientists. So it’s not just low cost manufacturing anymore and there is a lot that china has achieved over years. Clearly we are today in a world where everyone is ready to accept China in its new role of economic superpower (Willingly or unwillingly). Map Below tells us why.

Map of countries by foreign currency reserves and gold minus external debt based on 2009 data from CIA Factbook
While having all these thoughts in mind I turned some pages of Newspaper and found one more article on China. I don’t remember title exactly but it was related to “Attitude Issues of China with its neighbors”. It was clearly mentioning unhappiness of China’s neighbors e.g. India, Japan, S Korea. In recent incidence of arrest of marine Japan found itself in kind of secondary position. (Historically Japan has upper hand in Wars with China and obviously knowing Japan they won’t forget such insults easily) China has issue with India over Arunachal Pradesh, Stapled Visa for Kashmir residents, and hence is not considered partner of trust by Indians (No matter how many times Wen Jiabao visit to Delhi and whatever he says). All this bad “body language” clearly brings clouds of suspicion on China’s position as economic superpower. As George Soros rightly said, China must understand the advantages and responsibilities that come along with Leadership position, looks like probably they still don’t understand it.

Crash of 2008 has brought turning point in the story of China. Awkward position on reserves may also be a key source of frustration on their side, which fumes out on neighbors as they can’t say /do much to US. But they must understand that winner especially new winner has many enemies and one mistake can turn success story into catastrophe.

In short I think ball is in China’s Court. By building environment of trust and harmony with its Asian counterparts China can make 21st Century truly as “Century of Asia”. Else if they are not able to cope up with pressure / continue with attitude issues, their mistakes even can convert Asia into the battlefield of Major WAR. (May be WW III)