Citigroup Chief Economist Thinks Only „Helicopter Money” Can Save The World Now
Having recently explained (in great detail) why QE4 (and 5, 6 & 7) were inevitable (despite the protestations of all central planners, except for perhaps Kocharlakota – who never met an economy he didn’t want to throw free money at), we found it fascinating that no lessor purveyor of the status quo’s view of the world – Citigroup’s chief economist Willem Buiter – that a global recession is imminent and nothing but a major blast of fiscal spending financed by outright „helicopter” money from the central banks will avert the deepening crisis. Faced with China’s ‘Quantitative Tightening’, the economist who proclaimed „gold is a 6000-year old bubble” and cash should be banned, concludes ominously, „everybody will be adversely affected.”
China has bungled its attempt to slow the economy gently and is sliding into “imminent recession”, threatening to take the world with it over coming months, Citigroup has warned. As The Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reports, Willem Buiter, the bank’s chief economist, said the country needs a major blast of fiscal spending financed by outright „helicopter” money from the bank to avert a deepening crisis.
Speaking on a panel at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York, Mr Buiter said the dollar will “go through the roof” if the US Federal Reserve lifts interest rates this year, compounding the crisis for emerging markets.
„So why it matters is that the competence of the Chinese authorities as managers of the macro economy is really in question – the messing around with monetary policy, the hinting on doing things on the fiscal side through the policy banks. But I think the only thing that is likely to stop China from going into, I think, recession – which is, you know, 4 percent growth on the official data, the mendacious official data, for a year or so – is a large consumption-oriented fiscal stimulus, funded through the central government and preferably monetized by the People’s Bank of China.
Well, they’re not ready for that yet. Despite, I think, the economy crying out for it, the Chinese leadership is not ready for this.
So I think they will respond, but they will respond too late to avoid a recession, and which is likely to drag the global economy with it down to a global growth rate below 2 percent, which is my definition of a global recession. Not every country needs go into recession. The U.S. might well avoid it. But everybody will be adversely affected.”
Or translated from ‘economist’ to English – a massive helicopter drop of cash (well 1s and 0s) into the inflating hands of Chinese soon-to-be-consumers is al lthat can the world from another recession… and The Chinese leadership may need to stare into the abyss before they actually pull the trigger. Just think of the pork prices?
Mr Buiter had some more to add on the idiocy of Chinese Equity markets. He said the stock market crash in Shanghai and Shenzhen…
…is a sideshow. Consumption effects, you know, wealth effects, minor. Almost no capex in China is funded through share issue. And so it is a symbol of the policy failure rather than intrinsically economically important.
China’s problems are excessive leverage in the corporate sector, in the local government sector, and the very fragile banking system, and shadow banking system. As Chen pointed out, it won’t be allowed to collapse because it is underwritten by the government, but it won’t be a source of great funding strength.
There is excess capacity and a pathetically low rate of return on capital expenditure, right?Invest 50 percent of GDP and get, even in the official data, 7 percent growth. The true data is probably something closer to 4 ½ percent or less. So it is an economy that, I think, is sliding into recession.
And what the stock market reminds us of, I think, especially this sequence of the government first cheerleading the stock market boom and bubble – because quite a few of the local pundits believed that this was a great way of deleveraging without paying for the corporate sector, to have a stock market bubble. And then, of course, the rather panicky and incompetent reaction in response.
So, once again, why it matters is that the competence of the Chinese authorities as managers of the macro economy is really in question.
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So, it seems, all of a sudden – despite the permabulls, asset-gatherers, and commission-takers saying otherwise – China matters! As Bloomberg notes, China’s deepening struggles are starting to make a bigger dent in the global economic outlook.
“We’re seeing evidence that the slowdown is broader than expected” in China, saidMarie Diron, a London-based senior vice president at Moody’s and one of the report’s authors. “It’s long been clear that there’s a slowdown in the manufacturing and construction sector, but the service sector was more resilient. That’s still the case, but we’re seeing some signs of weakness in the labor market.”
“We continue to believe that the greatest risks to our growth forecasts remain to the downside,” Schofield wrote. Actual growth is “probably even lower” because of “likely mis-measurement in China’s official data,” he wrote.
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Which, is exactly what we have been saying for the last 2 years as the rolling collapse of China’s ponzi becomes ever more evident (and hidden by ever more manipulation)…
Here, for those curious, are links to previous discussions:
- China Dumps Record $143 Billion In US Treasurys In Three Months Via Belgium
- China’s Record Dumping Of US Treasuries Leaves Goldman Speechless
- How The Petrodollar Quietly Died And Nobody Noticed
- Why It Really All Comes Down To The Death Of The Petrodollar
- Devaluation Stunner: China Has Dumped $100 Billion In Treasurys In The Past Two Weeks
- What China’s Treasury Liquidation Means: $1 Trillion QE In Reverse
- It’s Official: China Confirms It Has Begun Liquidating Treasuries, Warns Washington
And so on and so forth.
In short, stabilizing the currency in the wake of the August 11 devaluation has precipitated the liquidation of more than $100 billion in USTs in the space of just two weeks, doubling the total sold during the first half of the year.
In the end, the estimated size of the RMB carry trade could mean that before it’s all over, China will liquidate as much as $1 trillion in US paper, which, as we noted on Thursday evening, would effectively negate 60% of QE3 and put somewhere in the neighborhood of 200bps worth of upward pressure on 10Y yields.
And don’t forget, this is just China.
The potential for more China outflows is huge: set against 3.6trio of reserves (recorded as an “asset” in the international investment position data), China has around 2trillion of “non-sticky” liabilities including speculative carry trades, debt and equity inflows, deposits by and loans from foreigners that could be a source of outflows (chart 2). The bottom line is that markets may fear that QT has much more to go.
What could turn sentiment more positive? The first is other central banks coming in to fill the gap that the PBoC is leaving. China’s QT would need to be replaced by higher QE elsewhere, with the ECB and BoJ being the most notable candidates. The alternative would be for China’s capital outflows to stop or at least slow down. Perhaps a combination of aggressive PBoC easing and more confidence in the domestic economy would be sufficient, absent a sharp devaluation of the currency to a new stable. Either way, it is hard to become very optimistic on global risk appetite until a solution is found to China’s evolving QT.