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The China Story: Fact Or Fiction?

Written by A Forex View From Afar on Saturday, July 18, 2009

Should the market expect a strong bounce from the global recession, helped by China?

Not likely.

Should the market expect a slow and sluggish recovery period, with lots of “green shots” similar to the one we have now?

Most likely.

If current market valuations are driven higher by green shots, then China is at the tip of the arrowhead, being solely responsible for much of the recent rallies in global markets
From the first few months of the credit crisis, during the summer months of 2007, analysts were saying that the economy will recover relatively quickly (Q1 2008 was estimated), as China and the rest of the emerging economies would drive up demand, helping the developed economies recover.

Time passed, Northern Rock and Bear Stearns bankrupted, but still, China (or any other emerging country) failed to sustain the demand side of the global economy. This caused the recovery date to be delayed, to somewhere around the last quarter of 2008, but still China was the one which should pull the global economy out of contraction.

The global economy did not recover in fourth quarter of 2008, but Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual and AIG continued the flow of famous bankruptcies, which sent the global markets into a backspin.

Today, we are at the beginning of the third quarter, 2009, two years after the credit crisis began, and also two years prior to the day in which China should have saved the global economy. Despite this, the main triggers of the credit crisis (housing market, default rates, over-leverage) seem far from over.

Banks still continue to file for Chapter 11 (read CIT, which would be the fourth biggest U.S. bankruptcy), and, low and behold, China has still not saved the global economy, albeit the analysts are still forecasting this would happen in the next quarter.

On what basis are these forecasts built? On the fact that the Chinese economy grew 7.9% in Q2, much more than expected? For most countries, such a growth rate seems almost mythical, but this is still far below the growth rate the Chinese economy saw the last ten years.

In addition, in order to keep the economy running, the Chinese Government, together with the central bank, run very loose fiscal and monetary policies. That loose, that the Chinese money supply grew by a massive 30% from a year earlier, while new loans increased by almost three times in just one year.

Economics 101 says that the money supply should expand at roughly the same pace as the economy (that is 8% in China’s case), anything bigger would spark massive inflation. Moreover, having new loans expand at such a strong pace raises some questions about the creditworthiness of some of the borrowers, and the defaults rate associated with them. Does this all have a familiar 2007 kind of tone to it, or are we just imagining that we have walked the over-leveraged, consumer fueled, path before?

On top of the inflationary problem, the question is how much time the Chinese economy can be developed while relying on internal credit, and how much can this help the global economy; China expanding internally does not help the global economy. The answer to this question remains in the hands of the international consumer, and their thirst and/or ability to obtain credit to start the consumption growth engine.

That will require lower interest rates, a lower value Usd, and by default a reversal of the ‘Strong Dollar’ policy that the U.S. administration is candidly trying to put out there as the message of comfort for holders of U.S. debt.

The China growth story will not unfold until the Fed deals with 10 year Treasury note yields; until they, and by default the Usd, are reduced, the China story may be more of a Fairy Tale than a Non-fiction Bestseller.

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Fundies and Trading
There is a constant question from some traders as to why anybody would ever need to consider the ‘F’ word when trading. Fundamentals: what is so damaging at looking at both Technical charts and having a Fundamental filter to gauge how many Lots to put on? Why is it that accepting that Technicals give us price points to trade, but Fundamentals determine the direction that we travel is so difficult for some traders to accept? Without a Fundamental Filter very few pure Technical traders would have seen this Dollar move coming today.

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