Global markets are a buzz with fear being mooted about a “contagion” and China debt trap sweeping across Asian markets, the currencies have become a quick focus by analysist and it seems to be the go to button to push towards weakening of the currencies and dampening import demand, more so, Chinese import demand. This could be a strategic call given the rebalancing needed from a geopolitical point of view. The China and USA tussle for market share is at the forefront of this new “contagion” mantra.
The US has in fact declared war on trade and have undermined the WTO framework in the process as it does not suit their re-balancing agenda. Asian stocks have slipped to a 14-month low as at 12th Sep (Wednesday) with investor confidence chilled by the latest round of verbal threats in an intensifying U.S.-China trade conflict
China too is seeking WTO sanctions. China stocks fell on Wednesday morning, dragging the Shanghai Composite and the blue-chip CSI300 indexes down to new multi-year lows, as worries over escalation in the U.S.-China trade war hit investor sentiment.
Despite the rhetoric global trade volumes remain healthy (as indicated by the Baltic Dry Freight Index) and commodities seem to be rallying on the back of the trade wars, this price movement is fundamentally seen as markets discounting long term geo political risk to the Global economy, as both USA and China both still show signs of strong balance sheets and improving corporate profitability. Thus, the two largest consumer markets don’t seem to be dented as yet as the play for Asian market share continues, the winner of this bout would depreciate their currency to sustain the shift in market dominance and profits.
The Sri Lankan Banking system credit growth is strongly correlated with the economic activity of the country. The Correlation Coefficient between GDP growth rates and Banking Sector Annual Average Loan Growth is 0.76.
The Banking sector profits have witnessed a 25pct growth from 2016 to 2017. The growth comes on the back of highly volatilize exchange rates and interest environment in the economy. NII of the banking sector to showed a growth 12pct for the corresponding period, thus remaining flat from 2015. Other income have accounted for 73pct while NII contributes circa 27pct of the total income of the Banking sector.
The Sri Lankan economy has recorded an average growth of 4.5 pct over the past 66 years. While only recording above average growth rates of 8pct post war in 2010, 2011 and 7pct growth rates in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, 2016 and 2017 the economic activity declined and continued to grow marginally above the trend line growing by 4.8pct in 2015, 4.4pct in 2016 and 4.0pct in 2017. Credit growth has decelerated from 32pt in 2016 to 18.1pct in 2017. Recording a 57pct year on year decline.
Banking sector credit growth has predominantly focused on the Industrial sector which accounts for circa 42pct of which housing and construction accounted for 75pct of the total, while services accounted for 30pct, within which tourism based credit creation was circa 29.3pct while consumption based credit lending stood at 21pct and agriculture 9pct.
Therefore Econsult anticipates that the slowing of credit growth would translate to an overall slowing of the real sector and lower GDP growth for 2018 to 3.0pct and 2019 to 3.5pct. On the back of tighter credit controls, declining agricultural supplies, incremental VAT and taxation ushered in by the New Inland Revenue Act 2017, and the currency depreciations
The rating agency too have indicated that Banks would have to consider supplementing risk capital by cutting down dividend payout and consider further capital raising based on Basel III rules since CAR have come under pressure due to rising NPL’s to equity & reserves. This could mean that Banks would be forced to tighten credit while adopting more secure means of lending. Such outcomes could pose more issues to the already choked real economy. The recent deceleration of the economy is bound to hit the banking sector in Q4 2018 and Q1 2019.
China and India are two large countries with India occupying a greater part of South Asia. China has its territory spanning across East Asia. The two countries together, account for 36pct of global population. China has sustained double digit GDP growth for 30 years up to 2010. India on the other hand, has grown at half the Chinese growth-rate over the same period. China has consolidated its global position becoming the second largest economy in the global landscape. In contrast, India is counted the seventh largest economy as of now, having bypassed many established economies in the traditional developed world. The economic production values and population size of these two countries make them a significant catalyst for driving global growth trends.
Many have spoken about China and its phenomenal ascent on to the global economic stage. It is common knowledge now that China would dislodge the USA from the number one position in the global ranking of economies and would come to dominate the world GDP by 2030. There is no doubt that China has been the most extraordinary growth story in the history of mankind. It has become a classic model of development economics too. For liberating 600 million people from poverty in a span of 40 years, building of course on the socialist foundations laid down since 1949, is an achievement no other democracy can boast of.
The China growth story i.e. profit story, shows that state enterprises need not necessarily be a hindrance to growth, rather they can make the difference; that public investments on infrastructure provides the big push; that import substitution is as important as exports to exploit to full advantage the advances in technology, investment and trade for economic progress; and that state-guided market forces are development friendly. This success story and underlying business cycle fundamentals continue to unfold at a rapid pace across all asset markets. Many economic commentators and businesses alike share the sentiment that China’s dominance would continue in the next 50 years.
A careful analysis of past trends seems to highlight another view. I tend to argue that India would be the next Asian miracle in terms of its Global growth story i.e. profit story, and would match China in 30 years i.e. by 2050. Imagine the emerging Asian economic landscape with China and India free of poverty, with full employment and giving leadership to a new economic order, replacing the hegemony of the West.
Population projections indicate that by 2050, India would have a population of 1,730 million whereas China would reach a population saturation point of 1,400 million (East Asian Forum.Org). These two countries combined would account for 36pct of the world population by this time. This would be a rich population, with new aspirations and changing lifestyles.
Demographic data show that India would be endowed with a relatively younger population compared to that of China (Table-1). India’s young workforce with knowledge and skills would be India’s strength. Those between 15 and 64, are expected to rise from around 64pct of its population in 2009 to 70pct in 2020. Meanwhile, China’s relatively cheap and semi-skilled cohorts of population are expected to start declining from 2014, resulting in labor shortfalls by 2050. This would mean that a more intellectually hungry, urban based middle class would take over the driving of India’s profit story and would unleash a wave of innovation in the sphere of manufacturing, technology and music and film industry. One expects an Indian resurgence in the horizon waiting to explode on the world stage.
By 2050 the Indian economy would be in a much stronger position with leading brands such as Tata, Maruti, Godrej, Infosys, Amul, Bajaj, Ashok Leyland, Asian Paints, Dabur, Apollo Tyres, Britannia, and the zestful Bollywood influencing the world on a much larger scale than what we have seen so far. In this expected scenario India would outpace China by growing at a compound rate of 8.50pct (Table-2) and would reach USD 57.2 trillion with a per capita income of USD 33,700. China in the meantime would struggle to consolidate its current growth momentum over the next 20 to 30 years. It would grow at a compounded growth rate of that of an advanced economy, growing at 3.3pct reaching 47.6 trillion USD dollars with a per capita income of USD 33,900. When compared, the numbers added together are staggering. Additionally, when we look at the merchandise trade turnover between China and India the data indicates these two countries would account for circa 30pct (USD 100 Trillion) of world merchandise exports by 2055 from its current 14.5pct.
In fact data indicates that China’s economy is already showing signs of losing steam. Slowing down has commenced, with 2018 data indicating that it grew at the weakest pace since the first quarter of 2009. This slowing down has been caused by the higher base effect, growing costs of production and labor costs are now seeping into the real economy. Chinese companies have begun to search for other Asian and South Asian economies to house their industries affected by high domestic production costs. This is an indication of how China would now be challenged in the competitive capitalist environment. A declining profit story would only compound the longer term growth trajectory (Figure-1). Added to the Chinese woes is their new breed of westernized economists who are now showing signs of losing sight of its competitive advantage obtained over the golden years of development.
Undeniable Asian Dominance in 2055
The rise of Asia spurred by India and China is inevitable, therefore Asian economies/policy makers and businesses should gradually look at their business models, cultural and geopolitical linkages and synergies thereby carving out their growth plans to suit the new world order by 2055 given that the US will be the only western country to make it into the top five economies in the world.
Whatever the superficial debates that are out there, the ground realities are undeniable and must be taken seriously or we will definitely be left behind in the dinosaur era. It is therefore crucial that Sri Lankan policy makers value both India and China as they are in the Asian continent with significant consumer markets and a burgeoning middle class fueled up with an appetite for modernity. These consumers will be pleasantly drumming up the tune of the Asian Century of World Dominance and we must be ready to dance to the beat. This outcome is indeed sweet music to the ears of Asians (Global Sri Lankans). Unfortunately, many of Sri Lankan and Asian business models are ill-prepared for this eventual reality of the Asian Century.