China is a success story told many times over. It’s economic miracle has been the stuff of folklore. There are investors out there who think that China will keep growing forever. The commodity speculators love China. Be it oil price or copper, any spike in price in any commodity is attributed to the insatiable demand from China. But behind the obvious, there is another story. For those who are willing to question the fairy tale story, it is time to short China.
Let us start by looking at the socio-economic model of China. The communist party of China has ruled the country with iron hand for over from 1949. The political elite of China want to avoid any social unrest and upheaval at any cost. They have an unenviable task. They have to provide enough work, food and shelter to the millions of ordinary Chinese. Being a command economy means there is no free market. The local purchasing power is insignificant compared to the western world. In order to create work and alleviate poverty, the leadership decided to take the route of growth by export.
Today China is the manufacturing powerhouse of the world and the single biggest factor in the growth has been low labour cost. Companies from all over the world shifted their production base to China to take advantage of the cheap labour. With the result, western civilization lost jobs. But most of the wages that a Chinese worker gets is at a level that is just sufficient for survival. Millions of rural poor migrate to bigger coastal cities in search of work and live in deplorable conditions. The worst part of the deal is that the companies that produce goods for the world do so at a very low level of margin, average 4% to remain competitive. And now every country is trying to grow out of poverty through export. Irony is, not every country can be net exporter, and someone has to be net importer as well. And consumers in western civilization do not have the capacity anymore.