Seconding Avent, Yglesias chips in:

There’s often a tendency to get distracted by rates of change when levels are in many ways more relevant. China is a dynamo and Greece is a basket case, but Greece is much richer than China. Rapid Chinese progress does in part reflects the skill and wisdom of Chinese policymakers. But in large part it merely reflects the madness of a previous generation of Chinese policymakersthe people who left the country at such a low level in 1980 from which it’s so rapidly been growing. If you look at the economic success of Chinese people in Taiwan or Hong Kong or Singapore or diaspora communities around the world, the striking thing about the PRC is how poor it still is. 

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