Is China Headed for a Fall?

Days after a "strategic dialogue," the schadenfreude comes out.

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This week's attempt to forge a new strategic relationship between China and the U.S. failed to stop commentators from speculating, with a wee hint of schadenfreude, that China's economy is facing a rocky climb. Here are their reasons for thinking we may not see China roaring back for some time:

Too much spending on infrastructure, says The Economist. "Even before this year's infrastructure boom capital spending was too great, causing many economists to worry about excess capacity."

Growth is fueled by excess credit, says Paul Cavey in the WSJ. "The longer this persists, the more likely China in the medium term will face just the overcapacity and bad debt that many observers feared already existed."

Stimulus money was badly misspent, says Tim Swanson at Daily Mises. "What was intended as a means to boost infrastructure improvements has been used instead to continue erecting villas and skyscrapers -- with little productive value -- in an already oversaturated market."

Organic growth is dampened, says Michael Pettis at the FT, "If the current fiscal stimulus package retards China's adjustment process, as many analysts argue that it does, growth rates may be much lower."

China's grip on the US is weak, says David Piling at the FT. "Beijing cannot dream of selling down its Treasury holdings without triggering the very dollar collapse it purports to dread."

So despite the diplomatic handshakes, a strain of suspicious, not wholly sympathetic concern continues to hang over much commentary on China. But it's an open question whether that's better than this species of zealous boosterism:

"Are the Chinese amazed that we're still stuck in recession?
That's right. They're holding all the cards and will continue to do so. There is a feeling here that China is still stuck in some kind of Third World mentality. It's not. It's a superpower. " Maria Bartiromoro, Businessweek
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.