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Tags: China | Johnson | US | growth

Morningstar's Johnson: China's Pain Is America's Gain

By    |   Friday, 12 December 2014 11:38 AM EST

Slow growth in China is not all bad — in fact, it appears to be stimulating the U.S. economy, according to Morningstar Director of Economic Analysis Bob Johnson.

Johnson predicts China's GDP growth in 2015 will be at about 6.5 percent to 7 percent — a noticeable slowdown from its previous torrid growth.

"We've talked about debt getting larger and larger in China, and it certainly has. I think that they are growing a bit concerned, and they are tightening down on what you can put up for collateral for all kinds of loans," he said in a company interview on the Morningstar website.

Johnson noted Chinese officials are comfortable with lower growth because "they really want to tighten down on these bad lending practices — get some of this excess capacity out of some of the markets. And [their mentality is,] 'So what if that makes for a little slower growth? We don't care.'"

He noted that a clampdown on China's shadow banking system, which often operates outside of Chinese state control, is a motivation for tighter central banking standards there. "It's not probably going to be politically popular, but I think it's certainly, given the rise in debt levels, something that they needed to take action on."

Johnson said the impact of a weaker China on the U.S. is actually favorable.

"We've been saying for two or three years now that a slowing China is — unless it gets out of hand — actually very good news for the U.S. economy. It's not necessarily great news for some multinational corporations; but for the U.S. economy, it's great news because 1 percent to 2 percent of our GDP goes out in the form of exports to China."

At the same time, a slower China yields lower commodity prices for items including oil, copper and agriculturals, Johnson noted, since China was responsible for so much demand pressure on global natural resources.

"So, a weak China has actually made prices lower here, and that's stimulating the U.S. economy. And we are seeing, now, a situation where China is slowing and — lo and behold — the U.S. has actually picked up steam. We've had actually two of the best back-to-back quarters of this entire recovery in the face of a slowing China."

Chinese factory growth slowed in November, even as Chinese leaders are trying to steer China toward a more sustainable expansion based on domestic consumption, The Associated Press reported.

"Officials seem willing to allow investment to cool further, as long as employment and consumer spending remain strong," said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report.

The AP said a new Chinese government economic planning announcement listed several goals, including keeping the economy stable, finding new sources of growth, bolstering industrial efficiency, speeding up agricultural development and raising incomes.

China must "understand the new normal, adjust to the new normal and develop under the new normal," said the statement.

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Slow growth in China is not all bad — in fact, it appears to be stimulating the U.S. economy, according to Morningstar Director of Economic Analysis Bob Johnson.
China, Johnson, US, growth
Friday, 12 December 2014 11:38 AM
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