Monday, June 18, 2007

How safe is Asia?

Ten years after the Asian crisis, is Asia safe? On one hand, it looks like there has been a huge buildup of foreign currency reserves. But that could be a case of fighting the last war. The areas of concern are now (a) the fragility of Chinese banks and (b) the Chinese investment boom. Barry Eichengreen has an article The Asian Crisis after Ten Years where he compares China against another fast-growing poorly regulated country: late 19th century United States.

I agree with Eichengreen in worrying about the mixture of Chinese banks and Chinese investment. But unlike him, I think that when that mixture goes sour, it will have global repercussions. It is not like late 19th century US, where the world economy did not care that much about the boom and bust of US output. Today, we are in a situation where a disturbance in Chinese investment or exports could propagate into US interest rates and thus world GDP growth.

If the critical piece of the puzzle is the Chinese investment boom, then the outlook depends on continued profitability of the export-oriented firms. Andy Mukherjee has a wake up call about difficulties in pricing of exports from Asian companies (though not yet Chinese firms), which should surely adversely affect profitability of these firms and thus the investment outlook.

On a related theme, William Pesek has an article about Brazil diversifying its China exposure by playing the India card.

1 comment:

  1. That is a nice strategy. can you elaborate how does an indian resident apply in the shares of chinese or brazilian stock market

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