Forget ‘taper’ risk: China is a bigger threat

Posted by George Magnus - Financial Times

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Deflation looms as Beijing rebalances economy

Developed country equity and credit markets snapped back quickly after the Federal Reserve tapering wobble a few weeks ago. From the crow’s nest, markets have accepted that Fed policy normalisation will be gradual, become more confident about economic prospects, and put to one side earlier concerns about the risk of deflation. At the coalface, though, things look more nuanced, and suggest that Fed tapering is much less of a risk than rising concern over a ‘fin de siècle’ moment in emerging markets, especially China, which could spark new deflation fears.

In China, the GDP deflator (a measure of the level of prices of all new, domestically produced, goods and services in an economy) has already slumped to a reported annual rate of 0.5 per cent in the June quarter, from around 7 per cent just two years ago. The combination of overcapacity in several industries and weaker growth could generate further downward pressure on Chinese goods prices at home and abroad.

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