I have spent a lot of time travelling overseas this year and from an economic viewpoint all eyes are firmly on China.
It is at the centre of all conversations about the global economic outlook and whether it can continue its remarkable growth in manufacturing and exports.
My personal view, whether it is right or wrong but I am happy to put it out there, is that China is going through the correction it had to have.
The Chinese Government is transitioning their economy, and their huge population of 1.4 billion people, to more sustainable long-term growth.
My view is they will manage and ride out their current correction. China’s unique blend of Communist and Capitalist Government has them positioned to manage the process well.
I also believe that these things go in cycles and there is a lot to be learnt from looking back at history at how they have played out before.
Go back 25 years and Japan made everything and was the leading country in the world for manufacture and export. As their economy grew, Japan became more westernised and expensive and, in search of cheaper labour, they outsourced to China.
China has done an amazing job in taking on the world’s major manufacture and export role but, just like Japan before them, they have experienced a subsequent rise in living standards and have started to themselves become too expensive to manufacture. This has led to a situation where China has been outsourcing its manufacturing to emerging economies such as Bangladesh and India.
However, we have been seeing the Chinese Government take steps to make their country more competitive again. This has been done through a deliberate devaluation of their currency, the Yuan, which only China can do with its Communist-Capitalist model.
This has led to instability and volatility on the Chinese stock markets, and indeed markets around the world. There is no doubt that China has pulled back from its previous record growth rates, but there is still plenty of growth there. In fact, their growth rate of around 6% is still extremely strong by world standards.
So, what does this mean for everyone else in the world? I believe that global economic volatility still has a little way to run yet. All eyes will remain squarely on China to see how their transitioning efforts play out.
Global metal prices (iron ore) have not hit rock bottom yet and it will most probably be early next year until we see some stability in the market and increase in prices.
Oil prices, I believe, will also continue to drop especially with restraints lifted on Iran and forecasts that its oil production will again rise to three million barrels, which was its level of production in 2000 before slipping back to one million barrels.