China Kneels Down to the Alter of Greenspan

For nearly two decades, Alan Greenspan guided the US economy through a period of ups and downs to a level of rising prosperity which only a grand Fed-master could achieve. It's hardly debatable that Alan-the-Great was far more critical to the steady growth of the US economy from 1987 to 2006 than President's Reagan and Clinton, who each oversaw at least some pro-growth policies during their tenure (though my economic heart is with the former). It now appears that China is taking note of some of Greenspan's conservative Fed strategies by moving to control economic expansion by cashing in some interest rate chips. According to MSNBC, "China raised interest rates Friday for the second time in four months, stepping up efforts to cool off an economic boom that the government worries could spark a financial crisis. The central bank raised the minimum rate for one-year bank loans by 0.27 percentage points to 6.12 percent, effective Saturday. It also pushed up deposit rates, apparently trying to discourage investment by making savings more attractive."

Compared with the US, what's most interesting about Chinese monetary policy is the greater control their Fed-equivalent has over interest rates. By setting a wider array of interest rate and variables, they have the ability to directly influence overall monetary policy rather than simply tug on the puppet strings of a single actor on the stage (which makes Greenspan's heroics all the more amazing in retrospect). For companies with significant interests in China sourcing or direct investment in the region, this move should be looked at as a positive, as it reduces the risk of catastrophic inflation or currency revaluation, which are not in the best Spend Management interests of Western companies. When looked at from an outsider's perspective, central economic planning has its benefits, I guess, though I'd never want to run a business inside that environment!

Jason Busch

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