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China: boom or bust? (1)

Robert Peston | 13:56 UK time, Friday, 5 November 2010

One day into my trip to China and I'm at that stage where I don't know what to think, partly because I've been bombarded with fascinating and contradictory information, and partly because I'm in a jet-lag induced fog.

So probably best to describe what's been going on, rather than draw hasty conclusions.

In no particular order, here is what I have heard and observed.

Ducks tongue and jelly fish

Robert Peston and statue of Genghis Khan

I've spent several hours in the remarkable new city of Kangbashi in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, which is either an example of amazing long-term investment or the manifestation of an insane Chinese property bubble.

I have never seen anything quite like Kangbashi, a vast urban landscape that has been constructed over the past five years on an arid, scrub-like plain in the middle of nowhere.

The local Communist Party official in charge of attracting investment to the region, Mrs Wang Linxiang, told me it was being built to house one million people within 10 years. That's costing in the order of £15bn a year of investment in the Ordos region - or so she said over a lunch of ducks tongues and jelly fish.

And it looks as though Kangbashi will accomodate not far off a million people already - because there is acre after acre of newly completed or soon-to-be finished residential apartments, office blocks and municipal buildings.

It's the public spaces that are most impressive and put town planning in the UK to shame.

The town centre boasts an opera house, a museum, a library and a stadium, any one of which is probably bigger than their largest UK equivalent.

And although their designs won't be to everyone's taste - the opera house looks like a giant traditional Mongolian hat (think Tommy Cooper fez with Asiatic twist), the museum is an enormous bronze coffee bean - there's no lack of boldness in the architecture.

There's also a square not conspicuously smaller than Tianamen or Place de La Concorde, where there are giant statues celebrating the world-conquering feats of that ambitious Mongol, Genghis Khan.

White elephant or far-sighted?

Hubris or sensible long-term planning?

Mrs Linxiang says that the city today has only 20,000 to 30,000 inhabitants. Which means that its wide avenues are deserted and slightly ghostly, especially at night.

But that doesn't mean they won't fill up in time - although all commercial history would suggest that the developers and property speculators may incur losses before it's a fully functioning urban community (think Canary Wharf times 20).

Migration from countryside to city remains a social and economic necessity in China, if average per capita GDP is to rise significantly from the current level of around £2,500.

And Ordos is a boom region, thanks to its massive reserves of coal and significant gas fields.

So, as I implied at the beginning, I really don't know whether to see Kangbashi as a spectacular speculative white elephant or an astonishing manifestation of what the Chinese combination of enterprise and state planning can achieve.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Let me think.

    Boom, then Bust, then Boom, then Bust, then....


    But more importantly, why are you working during a strike Robert?

  • Comment number 2.

    The transfer of wealth from West to East...

    They are building new cities and we are printing money ....

  • Comment number 3.

    Having recently worked in Yulin I would say that this new city of yours will fill up.

    These areas have humonguos amounts of coal which is cheaply mined.
    In Yulin there are plans for more than 100 power generation plants, coal gasification variety. Next big thing to look out for are CTL (coal to liquid) plants, very power hungry but feasable if power is cheap and oil prices are high. This technology has long been used by SASOL in South Africa.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    Long term confidence? Prosperity to come? Planning for the future?

    All this just proves you are out of the country. To keep you up to date with the jet lag back in the UK all is still doom and gloom with no sign of any improvement, just more and more taxes to come to pay off a few people who made mistakes in a very big way.
    In the old days in China I recall they had a different way of dealing with similar incompetence......

  • Comment number 6.

    The Chinese are taking the long term view. They want to become the pre-eminent world power and the USA can start a currency war, it will only delay the inevitable.

    Perhaps you need to look again at what the re-made economy will look like after the global crisis. For NEW CAPITALISM see China now.

  • Comment number 7.

    Maybe it's just 'ambition' Robert.

    Something that seems to be sadly lacking in the 'money-for-nothing' UK culture!

  • Comment number 8.

    "So, as I implied at the beginning, I really don't know whether to see Kangbashi as a spectacular speculative white elephant or an astonishing manifestation of what the Chinese combination of enterprise and state planning can achieve."
    ---------------------------------------
    Shouldn't that be "state planning and enterprise" The plan came first then the enterprise.The Chinese have lots of other "plans" and not many of their past one's have turned into white elephants, so I would not bet against them getting this one right.
    They don't have to print money to make the bet's either.

  • Comment number 9.

    I seem to remember a film or a book "If you build it they will come", maybe the Chinese have seen the DVD.Maybe they now make the DVD, under licence of course.

    Whilst your out there Robert perhaps you could check out the Buy to Let market? before a certain person originating from Hendon tells us they have already cornered the market and has already made a killing by buying "off plan".

  • Comment number 10.

    #7

    It's not ambition. It's a desire for world domination. Buy another iPhone. Feed Chinese ambition. The West are complete idiots.

  • Comment number 11.

    Agreed that they build things bigger and better but where are their own ideas- it seems to me that they simply take ideas from others which is clearly unfair. They exploit their own people which is clearly unfair. They produce countless counterfeited goods which is clearly unfair. They keep their own goods cheap by artificially keeping their currency low which is unfair. They are reaping the rewards of being a harsh communist state who are able to manipulate within a capitalist world which again is clearly unfair. The list goes on and on and on.........

    They are without doubt the new super power but have they achieved it fairly- me thinks not!!!

    Besides no matter how large a super power they become they will never be able to cater for such a large population.......... watch this space!!!

  • Comment number 12.

    7. At 3:09pm on 05 Nov 2010, Vercingetorix wrote:

    "Maybe it's just 'ambition' Robert.

    Something that seems to be sadly lacking in the 'money-for-nothing' UK culture!"

    Do you mean like the 'financial innovation' of banking?....or the abuse of expenses by MP's?

    Sadly I suspect this is another veiled attack on the poorest of our country in fear of antagonising your puppet masters.

  • Comment number 13.

    ....more banks failing....or is 'wound down' the new 'bankrupt'

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11701336

    Isn't this concerning anyone anymore? - have we become desensitised to the continuous failings of our financial industry so we don't even bat an eyelid?

    While you're out there Robert you should really ask them if their state media needs an experienced business editor - because there isn't going to be any business for you to comment on here by the time you get back!

  • Comment number 14.

    First off, he is probably working because a) he is there at great expense, why waste even more of the license payers money, b) it remains a free country.

    More importantly, isn't this most likely a 'bust' scenario ?

  • Comment number 15.

    Did I read that someone was asking were you working instead of sitting at home thinking up stories of how to rubbish band aid or the british bid shame on you

  • Comment number 16.

    #4. At 2:56pm on 05 Nov 2010, writingsonthewall wrote:
    "Robert - what are you working today for?"

    Come on dude, he is seven or eight hours ahead, it was nearly tomorrow there when he posted this ;-)) Probably in a bar downing something exotic with a cherry and umbrella stuck in it, hardly working.

  • Comment number 17.

    Plenty of room for writingsonthewall and his loonie friends to go and live in their communist utopia then

  • Comment number 18.

    No's 10 & 11:

    Just the sort of feeble excuses that condemn the UK to a second-rate future.

    If you can't stand the heat...

  • Comment number 19.

    No. 12:

    Hello, I seem to have struck a nerve...

  • Comment number 20.

    #11. At 3:31pm on 05 Nov 2010, Damo78 wrote:

    "They are without doubt the new super power but have they achieved it fairly- me thinks not!!!

    Besides no matter how large a super power they become they will never be able to cater for such a large population.......... watch this space!!!"


    And the Yanks pumping £300Billion quid into the global economy is fair I suppose. War in Iraq and Afghanistan - very fair. Theft of resources in the name of empire - yep fair. Ecological warfare - fair. Exploitation of labour - fair......oh the list goes on. All is fair in love and war, this certainly aint love.

    As for the Chinese populace, the regime there will educate and manage expectations, on thing they are good at is educating and managing (not at the end of a gun barrel), pity we don't do this here eh?

  • Comment number 21.

    I've never tried ducks tongues before, I will have to wander down to China town and give them a try. The problem I have ordering duck is that I always end up with the bill (Tarra !) Sorry about that, I think it was the mention of Tommy Cooper in Robert's blog that brought that old chestnut out....duck with chestnut sauce..now there's a thought !

  • Comment number 22.

    #17. At 3:55pm on 05 Nov 2010, Againstthetide wrote:
    "Plenty of room for writingsonthewall and his loonie friends to go and live in their communist utopia then"

    Leaving plenty of room here for the deluded capitalists to explode without taking out too many inncocent bystanders.

  • Comment number 23.

    We've seen these towns in the Eastern bloc and USSR. Grim with, cinema, opera house, giant square, wide avenues, fountains, sports facilities etc. Populated with unwilling inhabitants and deserted when the regime failed them.

  • Comment number 24.

    13. At 3:36pm on 05 Nov 2010, writingsonthewall wrote:
    ....more banks failing....or is 'wound down' the new 'bankrupt'

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11701336

    Isn't this concerning anyone anymore? - have we become desensitised to the continuous failings of our financial industry so we don't even bat an eyelid?

    While you're out there Robert you should really ask them if their state media needs an experienced business editor - because there isn't going to be any business for you to comment on here by the time you get back!


    No, this is not the new name for bankrupt, for if you read the article it is about the EU commission wanting to know where the restructuring following state aid is. If said plan is not produced, then they will be forcibly broken up by the all knowing commission - the same commission who can't even get their accounts signed off......

    Less of the tabloid/Murdoch style please ;-)

  • Comment number 25.

    Good to see the Chinese doing something with all the trillions of US dollars they have. I wonder how much they would charge to house all our housing benefits claimants?

  • Comment number 26.

    20. At 4:09pm on 05 Nov 2010, NorthSeaHalibut wrote:
    As for the Chinese populace, the regime there will educate and manage expectations, on thing they are good at is educating and managing (not at the end of a gun barrel), pity we don't do this here eh?
    No, I think the preferred method in China is hanging.

    Just remember, this is the China that limits the right to choose how many children you have, the China that is very very keen to take Taiwan at the barrel of a gun and the China that has free and fair elections - oops, no they don't


  • Comment number 27.

    Robert, could you please explain to taxpayers the purpose of your jaunt around China no doubt at our expense.

    I take it you booked the trip before your colleagues announced their plans to go on strike.

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 29.

    #18

    Yes - let's pay people $10/week, scrap the NHS, jail anyone that complains about anything or has more than one baby.... That's how to compete. Numpty.

  • Comment number 30.

    Please consider commenting on this story:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11701481

    If true the UK government just blew GBP ~3bln - selling the family silver on the cheap?

  • Comment number 31.

    No. 25:

    Forget it... Kangashi isn't big enough!

  • Comment number 32.

    11. At 3:31pm on 05 Nov 2010, Damo78 wrote:

    I just want to say how glad I am you wrote this post - it shows how some people are immersed in hypocriscy but cannot see it!

    "Agreed that they build things bigger and better but where are their own ideas- it seems to me that they simply take ideas from others which is clearly unfair."

    ...so we should keep any ideas which further the human race to ourselves so we can profit from them? - is that fair?

    "They exploit their own people which is clearly unfair."

    ..and the west doesn't?? - the only difference is the Chinese workers are more aware of their exploitation - whereas the mugs of the west are totally unaware (but still exploited)

    "They produce countless counterfeited goods which is clearly unfair."

    ...because they are infringing on a monopolised market of "tat with a label"? You want cheap goods, you get cheap goods.

    "They keep their own goods cheap by artificially keeping their currency low which is unfair."

    Do you know what QE even does?

    "They are reaping the rewards of being a harsh communist state who are able to manipulate within a capitalist world which again is clearly unfair."

    ...and the banks - aren't they reaping the rewards of a closed system? - why don't you go and set up a bank next week and prove to us how easy it is.

    "The list goes on and on and on........."

    I bet it does.

    "They are without doubt the new super power but have they achieved it fairly- me thinks not!!!"

    Oh this one is the best - do you know what colonialism is? So the Chinese are unfair to annex Burma, but when the UK took contol of India - or large parts of Africa - that was OK was it?
    When we massacred the Zulus - that was fair?
    When we massacred the indians - that was fair?

    "Besides no matter how large a super power they become they will never be able to cater for such a large population.......... watch this space!!! "

    ..no thanks - it's filled with hypocriscy - it seems your history books started in 1990. It seems you have a nice mix of jealousy and fear which causes you to call 'cheat'.

  • Comment number 33.

    #27

    I can only assume you are green with envy? From my perspective I am pleased that RP is in China. It is a place that fascinates me as I see it having an increasing impact on our futures; consequently I look forward to hearing more about Mr Peston's impressions during his vist.

  • Comment number 34.

    27. At 4:25pm on 05 Nov 2010, avidfan35 wrote:
    Robert, could you please explain to taxpayers the purpose of your jaunt around China no doubt at our expense.


    Forget that Robert. You fill your boots.
    When you get back though make sure you keep todays' moderators on your blog. They are quick and I've only seen one ban on your's and Stephs's blog. Who says the license fee ain't value for money?

  • Comment number 35.

    17. At 3:55pm on 05 Nov 2010, Againstthetide wrote:

    "Plenty of room for writingsonthewall and his loonie friends to go and live in their communist utopia then"

    ..except it isn't communist.

    At least I know the enemy I'm fighting - you're just going off someone else's inaccurate definition - that makes you a sheep - Baaaaaaa

  • Comment number 36.

    No. 29:

    No... that's not what I'm trying to say.

    Clearly, our democracy is far, far superior. What frustrates me is the pathetic level of leadership we have endured over the past 15 years that has led to our relative decline on the world stage. As a nation, we deserve so much more!

    Instead of whining about the relative success of other nations, we should collectively face reality and fight our corner. We are capable of being so much more if tough decisions are taken and accepted as being necessary.

    Yes, the banksters and easy-money merchants have run this country into the ground. But maybe, just maybe, public opinion will convince politicians that it's time for radical change.

    Second-rate doesn't cut the ice with me. I want the UK to lead - not curl up and die!

  • Comment number 37.

    17. At 3:55pm on 05 Nov 2010, Againstthetide wrote:

    Plenty of room for writingsonthewall and his loonie friends to go and live in their communist utopia then


    Please take a look around you. Done? Go one, take another look. Seen it? Everything which surrounds you has been manufactured or developed from engineering. Most of which until the 80s in this country. Unless you live in a tractor shed. In which case, you might yet find something created by science or engineering if you look hard enough - clue is in the first part of the phrase.

    Ranting leftie loonie every time anyone describes the obvious (ie: we manufacture nothing, we design nothing, and our banks are now full of QE-based-nothing) is fine, but what of the obvious problems? Or is this what you would regard a far-right utopia?

    By the way, I am a centrist.

  • Comment number 38.

    22. At 4:13pm on 05 Nov 2010, NorthSeaHalibut wrote:

    "Leaving plenty of room here for the deluded capitalists to explode without taking out too many inncocent bystanders."


    ...but when all the 'lefties' leave - who's going to do all the work!!

    Maybe they will convince themselves that moving money from left to right produces more and more of it...

  • Comment number 39.

    23. At 4:18pm on 05 Nov 2010, sabcarrera wrote:

    "We've seen these towns in the Eastern bloc and USSR. Grim with, cinema, opera house, giant square, wide avenues, fountains, sports facilities etc. Populated with unwilling inhabitants and deserted when the regime failed them."

    ...as opposed to the narrow dark streets of Britain with their beggars and homeless people who are there 'willingly' because they have no home to go to.
    ...if you look down the streets of some cities in the UK you will see they are more reminiscant of the eastern block - 20 years after it collapsed!

    Is that progress is it?

  • Comment number 40.

    #4. At 2:56pm on 05 Nov 2010, writingsonthewall wrote:
    Robert - what are you working today for?

    Where is your solidarity?


    Obviously some staff are still at work at the BBC today, Robert included. However, I wonder if the strike is responsible for the news team missing the remarkable story of Lord James speech on the House of Lords on Monday.

    In case you missed it he mentioned his money laundering on behalf of terrorists and the offer from a shadow organisation he labelled 'Foundation X' who have offered to bail out the UK economy.

    Either a doddering old fool falling victim to the grandest Nigerian email scam ever or someone who just put his foot in it.

    IF you want to find this news, just search for Foundation X. There is video of it in a well known video site.

  • Comment number 41.

    26. At 4:22pm on 05 Nov 2010, yam yzf wrote:

    "Just remember, this is the China that limits the right to choose how many children you have, the China that is very very keen to take Taiwan at the barrel of a gun and the China that has free and fair elections - oops, no they don't"

    Like the US with it's 'free and fair' Florida result? - or the UK with it's latest election re-run....or the numerous discrepancies with postal voting.
    Do the Chinese spend as much as the Americans on advertising 'convincing' the people to vote for a candidate - using lies and smears against the opposition? - I don't know, but they don't do it as well as the US.
    ...and didn't the US try to take Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan and numerous other places at the barrel of a gun?
    ...didn't we take half of Africa, India and other places at the barrell of a musket?

    ....those in glass houses and all that...

    Don't worry - the next child benefit change will ensure that we have our 'population control' too soon - not that we need it - I'm sure all the 'well tested' devices the Capitalist economy allows through because there's profit in it will ensure we all end up sterile anyway!

  • Comment number 42.

    36. At 5:07pm on 05 Nov 2010, Vercingetorix wrote:

    "Clearly, our democracy is far, far superior."

    Yeah - you can tell that from the 'satisfaction survey' we have at election time where more people decide not to vote than vote for the 'winners'

    "What frustrates me is the pathetic level of leadership we have endured over the past 15 years that has led to our relative decline on the world stage. As a nation, we deserve so much more!"

    Deserve? - really? I would say we've had far more than we deserve already - what we're getting now is our 'just deserts' for the tyranny and theft we engaged in around the world in the past.

    "Instead of whining about the relative success of other nations, we should collectively face reality and fight our corner. We are capable of being so much more if tough decisions are taken and accepted as being necessary."

    ...but in a democracy people don't vote for what's good for them (or the country) - they vote for whoever spins the best line...

    "Yes, the banksters and easy-money merchants have run this country into the ground. But maybe, just maybe, public opinion will convince politicians that it's time for radical change."

    ...and a pig just flew past my window...there is no public opinion because most of the public don't speak - they hide in their houses hoping the storm will pass them by.

    "Second-rate doesn't cut the ice with me. I want the UK to lead - not curl up and die!"

    ...so why are we continuing with Capitalism - by the Capitalists own admission it's "not perfect - but the best system we can muster"

  • Comment number 43.

    I don't don't think Ordos is a white elephant.
    I do know that for centuries Inner Mongolia was once one of the least populated areas of China. I do know that ordos has the highest per capita GDP of any city in China.
    I remember seeing a picture of Mongolian newlyweds, wearing traditional dress, and posing in front of their new Porsche Cayenne. The car cost @ $350,000. Inner Mongolia sells 2 of these a week.
    To whom?
    Mining execs and real estate developers.
    The American economy is plodding along at 2% growth, but China is stampeding at 9%.
    Behind the growth is coal, and guess where most of the coal comes from:
    The Chinese province of Inner Mongolia. The sudden "richness" has left the rich with questions about what to do with the money, where to invest?
    Ordos produces 1/6 of China's coal and 1/3 of its natural gas.
    Ordos has so much money that city leaders wanted to move the entire population 15 miles away to a location with better access to water. The government spent a billion US dollars to create an entirely new city, called Kangbashi, but only 30,000 people live in Kangbashu (It was built for 300,000.).
    Ordos is not alone. Many empty cities have resulted from having oodles of money, but nowhere to invest it. China has a closed capital account; this means people can't invest outside the country. In the Chinese economy the only place you can put your money and feel that you've got something tangible is in real estate, even if you're buying 10 empty apartments in a city that is far too empty.
    I don't know China well enough to forecast where Kangbashi will be in 5 years, but I think China will have to come up with better places for the Chinese People to put their "richness".

  • Comment number 44.

    After conscription, this is the second oldest trick in the book. Vast construction projects keep people in work. Who cares whether the finished job is of any discernible value to the rest of the populace? Just keep the figures looking good.

    Olympic village anyone?

  • Comment number 45.

    44. At 5:40pm on 05 Nov 2010, threnodio_II wrote:

    Who cares whether the finished job is of any discernible value to the rest of the populace? Just keep the figures looking good.


    Sounds like a certain UK mobile telecommunications sector that!

  • Comment number 46.

    I'm not entirely sure of the purpose of this article Robert. Hmmm...Inner Mongolia. Isn't that one of the few places where rare earth is mined? Guess someone's been thinking, planning and acting well ahead. Unlike some places. Meanwhile....back at the ranch.....

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11697483

  • Comment number 47.

    Robert,

    You've been baiting them but they haven't taken the hook have they?

    Sounds far better than those new towns we built. Bet they've got fantastic libraries too.

  • Comment number 48.

    If I had as many US$ in the bank as the Chinese, then I too would be spending them like crazy as in the not too distant future they will be ten a penny, literally. The last bastion of a defunct economy is to have no alternative, but to print money. Why the powers that be at the US Fed think that it will work for them when it has never in human history ever worked for anyone else is beyond me. Goodbye America.

  • Comment number 49.

    48. At 5:53pm on 05 Nov 2010, geofffromleeds wrote:

    "Why the powers that be at the US Fed think that it will work for them when it has never in human history ever worked for anyone else is beyond me."

    Oh.....logic doesn't work. Just keep inflating until the gas runs out. After that it's all hands to the bicycle pumps.

  • Comment number 50.

    Well, who can blame them ?

    If you are going to build a City, build a good one.

    They have the advantage of hundreds of thousands of acres of 'empty' land, and a Command Economy, that is fairly well managed.

    Why doesn't Britain build more high quality, reasonably priced Apartments ?

    Allowing Councils to take the initiative again (perhaps with quality controls) might be a good idea.

    You see the Private Sector alone will only build what people with money want.

    Which would be all right if everyone who needs a Home has sufficient money to buy what they need in a 'Free market'.

    People with money (in Britain) generally don't want Apartments.
    And the nice, quality apartments that are built generally seem to end up rented out, as Buy to Let investments.

    Time Britain started building for the future.............

  • Comment number 51.

    No. 42:

    A good effort - but I must confess that I am thoroughly unwound!

  • Comment number 52.

    Show us the photo after they turned the fountain on, Robert!

  • Comment number 53.

    And the clean water to fulfill the requirements for a city of 1 million in one of the most arid regions of the world is going to come from where? How long is that supply going to last?

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 55.

    #50 Supercalmdown

    They are not going to undermine the housing market by building cheap affordable housing. If that bubble bursts then everything else is lost (not my thoughts but theirs, whoever they are lol)

  • Comment number 56.


    53. At 7:33pm on 05 Nov 2010, Jeric wrote:

    "And the clean water to fulfill the requirements for a city of 1 million in one of the most arid regions of the world is going to come from where? How long is that supply going to last? "


    Too right, Jeric.

    A new city in a desert. Where meagre water resources are being drawn down for unsustainable agriculture, reducing vegetation cover and leading to wind erosion on a larger scale than the dustbowl. The state has been encouraging migration to the region from elsewhere within China for years, and they want another million people to live there?

    It won’t work.

  • Comment number 57.

    it is a big mistake in china, and every chinese knows that. why you people take it as a miracle.

  • Comment number 58.

    39. At 5:11pm on 05 Nov 2010, writingsonthewall wrote:
    23. At 4:18pm on 05 Nov 2010, sabcarrera wrote:

    "We've seen these towns in the Eastern bloc and USSR. Grim with, cinema, opera house, giant square, wide avenues, fountains, sports facilities etc. Populated with unwilling inhabitants and deserted when the regime failed them."

    ...as opposed to the narrow dark streets of Britain with their beggars and homeless people who are there 'willingly' because they have no home to go to.
    ...if you look down the streets of some cities in the UK you will see they are more reminiscent of the eastern block - 20 years after it collapsed!

    Is that progress is it?

    Probably like most people who find Robert's and Stephanie's blogs interesting, they , like myself, think WOTW comments are made with his tongue (not ducks, by the way) firmly stuck in his cheek. Of all the 'ism's' I'm afraid that's destroying Britain, alcoholism is the main culprit, hence WOTW lost souls on the streets.

    Our lives are about the choices we as individuals make. If WOTW worried about the homeless and downtrodden that much, he sell his computer to buy them food and cider. Of course he will not, nor would I, even George Orwell despaired at the poor. Trendy lefties are the worst type of hypocrites ( check out Ben Elton and Alexi Sayle now) as my late father always said ' if I met a member of the socialist workers party who had done a days work. I might actually vote for them. He never did meet one with dirty hands.

  • Comment number 59.

    A planned economy in modern world of computers, now there's a thought. Planning for the long term, in a way capitalism cannot, because of its focus on short term profit making for its shareholders. Ever get the feeling we are going to be left behind, and become a third world nation of the future, saddled with debt because of the debt based monetary system, and the erosion of our wealth to service the needs of our masters er bankers. What a sad state of affairs.

  • Comment number 60.

    57. At 8:01pm on 05 Nov 2010, qiqiqi wrote:

    it is a big mistake in china, and every chinese knows that. why you people take it as a miracle.


    Fascinating. Thank you.

    More?

  • Comment number 61.

    At 5:11pm on 05 Nov 2010, writingsonthewall wrote:
    "...as opposed to the narrow dark streets of Britain with their beggars and homeless people who are there 'willingly' because they have no home to go to.
    ...if you look down the streets of some cities in the UK you will see they are more reminiscant of the eastern block - 20 years after it collapsed!
    Is that progress is it?"


    That's socialism for you!!

  • Comment number 62.

    #59 Averagejoe
    "What a sad state of affairs."

    Indeed. And brought about by industry and anything else of true value being sold off under our noses by the clever barrow boys of the City.

    What will they do when there is nothing else to sell off and worst of all nobody will accept our IOUs anymore?

  • Comment number 63.

    I am never amazed but always disappointed that whenever China is mentioned it appears to polarise views.
    Many appear unable to understand the depth and breadth of the change that has occurred in China over the past century.
    I will not, do not and cannot defend the ruthlessness with which China's leaders have dragged China from a primitive medieval economy to super power status, but it was never going to be an easy transition.
    The argument over democracy in China appears to be a vacuous one. There are still too many advances required particularly in rural areas for China to move to the type of elections that we are so proud of in western democracies.
    China has been inward looking since it ended the voyages of Zheng He. The new openness China is exhibiting comes at a price for Chinese culture and China appears to show great wariness’ in its dealing with the West, perhaps with good reason.
    Cultural and political change is slow in China, however in recent years the centralised government has relinquished power to city states and without ignoring the position of the ruling elite most if not all corruption is by petty officials and small town mayors.
    I believe that rather than being angry with Chinese methods, we ought to encourage and respect our differences, saving our energy to build and improve our own lives and society.
    As a final comment, and in answer to the post that that prompted me to write, China is not threatening Taiwan at the point of gun, it has waited and continues to wait. One day Taiwan will ask China if it can come home.

  • Comment number 64.

    Perhaps the greatest indictment of the west capitalist ideology of recent times is that countries with freedom restraints we can only have nightmares about can seek the economic moral high ground.

    Tough times ahead that we all have to live in and somehow help all in society to improve their lives but worry more that we rely through debt repayments on a country where freedom is not even a whim.

  • Comment number 65.

    coincidentally -

    the chinese president is on an offical visit to France today and they have announced 20bn dollars of contracts for Areva, Airbus etc..........and a letter of intention for Total for a "petrochemical coal transformation project" in INNER MONGOLIA!

    meanwhile, the UK has been busy seeling off the high speed channel rail link to a Canadian conglomerate!

    But don't worry - the govt minister says it's only leased for 30 years,and the new owners who will run the line, the stations and the channel tunnel terminal, will be " monitored by the Office of Rail Regulation".

  • Comment number 66.

    58. At 8:22pm on 05 Nov 2010, AudenGrey wrote:
    Our lives are about the choices we as individuals make.

    Dad tell you that as well?

    59. At 8:24pm on 05 Nov 2010, Averagejoe wrote:
    Planning for the long term, in a way capitalism cannot...

    See #57 by qiqiqi.

    62. At 9:16pm on 05 Nov 2010, prudeboy wrote:
    #59 Averagejoe
    "What a sad state of affairs."
    -
    What will they do when there is nothing else to sell off ...

    Live in luxury off their global investments and watch us starve.

    64. At 9:41pm on 05 Nov 2010, TheGingerF wrote:
    Perhaps the greatest indictment of the west capitalist ideology ...

    We're restricted to two choices: print our way out of it; or starve the masses. I'm for civil disobedience.

    65. At 9:43pm on 05 Nov 2010, avulcan wrote:
    meanwhile, the UK has been busy selling off the high speed channel rail link to a Canadian conglomerate!

    Lolnot. Dover harbour is up for grabs, too.

  • Comment number 67.

    Post 13 WOTW

    You are absolutely right to keep an eye on what's happening in the world of bankers.
    The Landesbank structure is slowly but surely being altered like our Trustee Savings Banks was altered many years ago.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landesbank

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trustee_Savings_Bank

    Soon we will have the Tesco Bank and the Virgin Bank giving the illusion of more choice.
    The people will still have no choice but to deal with the Central Banks (by far privately owned) and their Fractional Reserve Banking (totally privately owned).



  • Comment number 68.

    At least china is out there investing in other developing countries whilst it secures resources for its humongous population. What has the US or Europe ever done for developing nations, other than invade them and deplete their resources at gunpoint.

    Whoever can't see the system crumbling and collapsing big time is either blind, deaf, dumb or a banker. Look back at the tell tale signs in the Economy in late 2007 and early 2008, when the Bear Stearns hedge funds went under and eventually took Bear Stearns with them. Then Carlyle capital collapsed and small US regional banks started falling like dominoes till Lehmans blew the lid off the pot. The RBS loss today, HSBC's poorer earnings report, WestLB, PIIGS CDS spike are all those warning signs bubbling under the surface of another cataclysmic eruption. Gold and Silver are the only thing that let me sleep safely at night right now.

  • Comment number 69.

    42. At 5:25pm on 05 Nov 2010, writingsonthewall wrote:
    36. At 5:07pm on 05 Nov 2010, Vercingetorix wrote:


    ..
    "Second-rate doesn't cut the ice with me. I want the UK to lead - not curl up and die!"

    ...so why are we continuing with Capitalism - by the Capitalists own admission it's "not perfect - but the best system we can muster"

    >>>

    WOTW - I have a question for you in regards to transitioning from a capitalist system - how it it possible for a country with almost no natural resources to transition to a non-capitalist economy? Surely for it to be possible a large number of countries who trade with one another would need to change at the same time with those countries having sufficient natural resources for it to be self sustaining? If a country such as ours tried to go it alone and embrace a collectivist approach why would other countries 'give' us raw materials (other than a warm sense of sharing) unless we could pay for it in some form?

  • Comment number 70.

    You have to ask yourself where is all the capital coming from to fund this rapid expansion. May be our pension funds, life polices and bank bail out cash is being channeled to China?
    Kind of ironic that the western worker is funding his own demise , but hey thats capitalism. The west is dead the banks and global corporations are all moving east to the next big market. No doubt to sell them all the same crap we have been buying - mortgages, endowment policies, health plans, life insurance etc all those aspiring Chinese families wanting the western life style LOL.

  • Comment number 71.

    65. At 9:43pm on 05 Nov 2010, avulcan wrote:

    I think the Americans did the same kind of thing, getting the Spanish to build trains for them rather than re-tooling Detroit.

  • Comment number 72.

    Michael Hudson, President of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City has some interesting things to say about the current ways of dealing with the global crises.

    Is it not the case that the Chinese, by creating work by building cities is doing as he suggests - inflating worker incomes.
    If they are doing that then what does that mean for the likes of us suffering neoliberal policies? Doesn't that make it doubly difficult for us to pull of this mess.

    According to Hudson, it seems the Chinese are making lots of friends around the world while the Americans are upsetting a lot of people.

    His interview is very interesting.

    http://www.democracynow.org/2010/11/5/new_600b_fed_stimulus_fuels_fears

  • Comment number 73.

    Strange isn't it: The UK are selling national assets whilst China (and other emerging economies) are creating and buying assets but few see this happening. We have just sold our high speed rail network to Canada. Selling national trust land - if UK companies or people can buy this land I will be amazed. Look around you and watch who is buying what we as a nation own. Even your local park could be up for auction if not already.

    Northern Rock gives gardening leave of £500,000, RBS pay additional bonuses, . . . .

    Now compare these headlines:

    AIG loses $2.4bn in quarter

    RBS back in red with £1.4bn loss

    In My Opinion (there you go - you don't have to delete this comment) the 'losses' are being dumped on these banks by the likes of GS, Morgan Stanley, . . .

    Take a look at the non-nationalised banks - they all seem to be 'recovering' whilst the UK tax payer can never recoup their 'investment'.

    Funny how you can tax and cut the hell out of a british tax payer and they will not mind unless the screams of the neighbour's suffering do not interfere with the television set.

  • Comment number 74.

    Fond memories of putting journalists on helicopters from Tamar to the border in the New Territories so they could wonder at the huge but empty 'white elephant' of a city just the other side of the fence.

  • Comment number 75.

    Do you ever stop moaning?? Its always doom and gloom with.Get a life!!

  • Comment number 76.

    China is the model for the future, they know how to protect the working man. China will rule the world this century either directly or indirectly and I welcome that!

    Ism't it much better than we all have the same even if that isn't enough rather than some have more than others?

    The Banksters must pay! It is disgusting that they are allowed to make a profit on lending money. Making profits at all should be illegal!

  • Comment number 77.

    Whilst you're out there Robert, have a look at the banking system and who is funding these far-sighted developments.

    The major banks have already had a bailout in the form of share offerings, if they need anymore cash who will they ask, the Chinese government?

    The Chinese might be a nation of savers but a liquidity crisis can happen to even the most asset rich.

  • Comment number 78.

    58. At 8:22pm on 05 Nov 2010, AudenGrey wrote:


    > my late father always said ' if I met a member of the socialist
    > workers party who had done a days work. I might actually vote for them.
    > He never did meet one with dirty hands.

    The same applies to Jehovah’s witnesses. I was told on my doorstep that I’d better live a more Godly life. When I asked him what he does when he’s not being a Jehovah’s witness, he told me he’s unemployed.

    So there you have it – me paying taxes to support people to tell me I’m not living a Godly life! They're as bad as bankers - so I sent him off with a flea in his ear. They have more front that a double decker bus.

  • Comment number 79.

    #1 Leviticus (and others)

    But more importantly, why are you working during a strike Robert?

    Personally, I think they should strike for much longer. I cannot imagine them getting their point across with just 48-hour strikes. I think a few months or maybe years on strike would be far more persuasive.

    They're bound to have public opinion with them. Public sector 'journalists' striking because their final salary pension scheme isn't good enough for them, everyone will rally round that.

  • Comment number 80.

    #78 Jacques Cartier

    In my experience, Jehovah's Witnesses are almost invariably pensioners, so I doubt they're living off the cream of your taxes. More likely the cheapest mushroom soup.

  • Comment number 81.

    73, A very astute ovservation, I would have expected WOTW to have seen that one ;-)

    Seriously thinking of selling up, and moving somewhere nice - This country is in the grubber and the peasanats are to be expected to pay for it all whilst the bankers sail off into the sunset!!!

  • Comment number 82.

    #76 Workers_Unite

    China is the model for the future, they know how to protect the working man.

    ...but maybe not his children. Come to think of it, maybe not him either

    I'm sure you were just joking but corruption and poor working conditions in China are a horrible blight on their relentless progress.

    I'm sure we lost a great many people for our industrial progress but the Chinese have what we did not - the knowledge of our experiences and their own modern technology to avoid these deaths. They don't seem to think it's worth it.

    Like Mao Zedung and the 'Great Leap Forward' which is estimated to have killed between 15 million and 45 million people, communist party officials - especially senior party officials - knew that there would be a huge number of deaths from starvation but they wanted their communist utopia.

  • Comment number 83.

    #73 - "Strange isn't it: The UK are selling national assets whilst China (and other emerging economies) are creating and buying assets but few see this happening."

    There is nothing strange about it - in order to persistently import more than you export, you need an equal but opposite flow of investments. In other words, you need to either borrow money from foreigners, or sell them your assets. And as we know, the borrowing option is pretty much exhausted.

    As for planned industrialisation, take a trip to Bangalore and look at the other way of doing it, Indian style.

  • Comment number 84.

    83,

    I think you missed 73's point in regards to dumping toxic assets onto the taxpayer.

  • Comment number 85.

    Has anyone read the article on the ftalphaville.co.uk website about the economist who is floating the idea that the UK's next round of QE should be to buy mortgage backed secruites instead of govt. bonds in order to rescue the banks (again!) from the falling house prices??

    the foreclosure legal probelms in the US are continuing and likley to start hurting the banks seriously.

    the PIIGS are getting very close to the edge again, any rescue by the ECB will hit the banks which invested big time in those countries e.g. UK banks, (RBS just announced another €200m write-off in Ireland this quarter).

    seems to me that the UK govts. "strategy" is nothing more than a mad dash to stave off the markets downgrading the AAA rating, hence announcing cuts and selling off assets as much as possible. It's just short-term finger in the dyke headless chicken stuff.All three main parties haven't got a clue.

    hammering for sterling, big inflation/interest rate rises, bank rescue and a trip to the IMF all on the cards, just a matter of when.

  • Comment number 86.

    #85 avulcan
    RBS just announced another €200m write-off in Ireland this quarter

    Surely not to Irish sovereign debt ? Ireland have not defaulted.

    This says that French and German banks have 61% of the PIIGS bank exposure.

    That being so, the ECB will never allow a default among any of those particular Gadarene Swine.

  • Comment number 87.

    #84 JavaMan
    83,

    I think you missed 73's point in regards to dumping toxic assets onto the taxpayer.


    What he said in #73 was In My Opinion (there you go - you don't have to delete this comment) the 'losses' are being dumped on these banks by the likes of GS, Morgan Stanley, . . .

    He offered no opinion on how that trick was brought about. I would gladly dump any financial losses I might incur on a financial institution if I could.

    How do I go about that ?

    He also said RBS back in red with £1.4bn loss

    This says "...Stripping out the impact of changes in the fair value of its debt and an £850 million charge relating to the Government’s asset protection scheme, the company made an operating profit of £726m...."

  • Comment number 88.

    As a 'town' planner in the UK it's a topic I do find interesting. Sadly my knowledge of the Chinese planning system is limited at best, but I do have a few questions some bloggers may be able to help with:

    a) The UK government recently launched a national infrastructure plan, setting out plans for investment of around £200bn in the UK in infrastructure. This is far less than many developing economies (like Brazil) as recognised in the document (admittedly the starting points for infrastructure provision play a role in the levels of investment needed). When the Chinese have £15bn a year to spend on one town, and when our overly fragmented system of infrastructure provision limits the real role town planners can play in this area, you tell me how we're meant to match the Chinese at our level.
    b) even if the levels of expenditure matched, the cost of developing infrastructure here (do not underestimate the cost of consultancy fees and site investigations) are signficantly higher than elsewhere. In addition, it is recognised that the cost of capital is higher in the private sector than in the public sector (reductions are achieved in the private sector by passing on risk (nice euphemism for cost) onto users (Johnny public)). So we're spending less to get far less, which will cost far more for the end user.
    c) Most planning authorities over here live in fear of examinations in public and having their own plans not being assessed as 'sound'. Significant schemes ranging from high speed rail to eco-towns and airport expansions are met with huge public opposition wherever they're proposed. Is the Chinese population as mobile in voicing its objections, and perhaps more importantly, is the Government as ready to listen as it is in most developed nations? Despite what many will believe we do have a surprisingly open planning system.

    In terms of post 73, here, here. But I shan't whinge about the sale of British assets and the disappearance of our manufacturing base, such arguments have a tendency to fall on deaf ears.

    I feel more worried about the apathy which seems to have immobilised the country. Was I the only one to feel a pang of envy as the French clearly displayed their outrage at an increase in the retirement age to 62, whilst we have sleep-walked to an increase of 68, amongst other quality of life destroying policies this (and the last Government) have introduced. I look forward to a future when our would-be students (who are currently being priced out of an education to high value positions) our watching on from their couches as economic migrants (who have acquired training on an affordable basis) take on the high skills posts.

    Perhaps I'm being overly dramatic. I shall put the crystal ball back down.

  • Comment number 89.

    apologies for the horrific grammatical errors in the last post

    * increase to 68
    * are watching on

  • Comment number 90.

    China--Grown-up Child Labour?

    We all know that most of the things we wear and use around the house these days come from China. If they didn’t, we probably couldn’t afford to buy them in the quantities that we do. Cheap Chinese clothing and gadgets have turned us into shopping gannets. Westfield, Bluewater, Meadowhall, the Bull Ring, B&Q, Ikea and even your local hardware store are all kept going by a Chinese ability to produce stuff of almost any kind at eye watering prices. If we want Mangos and Zaras and Gaps and American Apparels, Comet and Carphone Warehouse and Curry’s, then we need the Chinese work force. They have radically changed our lives in a sort of arm’s length industrial revolution twice removed. Snapping up a chenille throw at Primark for £4.95, an item that would have cost £39.00 in John Lewis just three or four years ago, is almost as much a change of life as the invention of the light bulb. Suddenly everybody can afford a better life style.

    But for how long? Not even the Chinese Government knows how many Chinese there are, though a visit gives the impression of an unlimited supply. Of course this can’t be true and at some point, sooner than we imagine, Chinese cheap labour, like cheap oil, will run out. Or perhaps more accurately, grow up.

    The ancient civilization that built the Great Wall and the Forbidden City has all but vanished, and the world that hosts visitors to the relics of those glorious days feels a bit like a badly run suburban primary school from the 1950’s. China today is like a nation of 5 year old children. Great fun for a while and then suddenly tiresome. They talk too loudly, slurp and spill their food, dress badly, paint everything in primary colours, lack any common sense, take mad risks on the road, belch in public, leave litter everywhere, shamelessly copy others, and can’t form an orderly queue. The girls are pretty, but hard to tell apart. The men conform to a small number of stereotypes, mainly defined by hairstyle. If this sounds like xenophobic exaggeration, ask any of the small army of middle aged Westerners in denim jackets and chinos that commute there endlessly to secure supplies of cheap product for the rest of us.

    At first sight this is all rather depressing. Every single restaurant In China dangles those red paper ball lanterns outside. Fascia signs are invariably red and gold. Businesses are given absurd names: Hope Star, Golden Fortune, Happy Rising. The roofs on commercial buildings are all painted the same nasty shade of blue. Away from the glamorous city centres every structure appears to be badly built and in urgent need of a coat of paint. The seeming lack of variety, exacerbated by a semi-permanent grey haze, in a country of more than a billion people gives an impression of depressing stagnation.

    But underlying progress is rapid. Travelling in China has changed immeasurably in just four or five years. Arriving at Shanghai immigration used to be hours of torture. Now the smiling officials ask you to rate them for friendliness and speed of service on a special push-button console. All international travellers have their temperature taken on arrival. The liberalisation of the eastern and southern sides of the country has led to an eruption of economic freedom and wild advances in certain aspects of life. Independent airlines are springing up everywhere, and flying is cheap and very efficient. Long check-in queues are processed at high speed. Security checks are brisk and thorough. Lighters are ruthlessly confiscated from departing smokers and handed over to arriving passengers. Airline staff are polite and friendly.

    Mobile phones work well and are incredibly cheap. It’s not unusual to see a poorly dressed emaciated peasant bumping along on the back of a filthy old three wheel motor cart whilst gabbling into a Nokia. Many brand new highways link the towns and cities. One of the newest motorways links Wuyishan with Huatian in Fujian province, the warm, bamboo covered mountainous area to the West of Fuzhou. You can drive on that road for 100 kilometres and not encounter a single other vehicle. Why? Because it’s a toll road, and every 100 kilometres covered costs £10. In a country where taxi drivers charge just £18 for a one hour ride at 60mph, paying tolls doesn’t make any sense. So the badly made old roads are still clogged, and the brand new MOTO style service stations on the highways stand empty.

    If you can’t afford a car in China, the next best thing is a re-chargeable electric scooter. With a range of about 25 kilometers and no legal requirement for a crash helmet, these vehicles are everywhere to be seen, often with three or four dangerously balanced girls on board. They are silent, clean and efficient. Once their owners start using their lights at night, they’ll be safe, too. Perhaps these will be the ideal form of transport for all urban earth dwellers of the future.

    But progress is erratic. Outside the 5 star international hotels and larger airports, hygiene standards lag well behind the West. Questionable odours permeate the air at all times, and even the sea smells polluted. Lavatories are ghastly, fly ridden, and stink enough to make you retch. The men are for ever hawking and spitting. Pipes rust and leak, unsavoury puddles darken the pavements, and stray dogs look fretfully sideways at passers-by. The entire countryside is covered in plastic bags.

    Somehow the Chinese government has made possible the coexistence of communism and rampant capitalism. It’s quite a feat, one that’s hard to imagine in the West. Underlying differences in the economic and social infrastructure seem to make this possible. In China you can own a house or factory, but you don’t own the land that it stands on. All land belongs to the government. You can have only one child. But if a friendly childless couple is willing, your second child can “belong” to them. If you want to build a factory or win a contract to repair a highway, you must endure and pay for endless alcohol fuelled lunches with local government officials.

    The Chinese are famous for their gambling, but they instinctively invest in a way that other nations do not. A factory owner in London or Delhi might buy a bigger house after a profitable year. In China the same man would enlarge his factory, buy more efficient machinery or send his son and heir to the States to get an MBA. This is one of the secrets of Chinese economic success: a mentality that always looks to the future, coupled with a stupendous work ethic.

    This capitalist instinct for investment has penetrated to the highest levels of the communist government. In spite, or perhaps because of the boozy lunches, new highways, airports and bridges appear at a startling rate. And this rate is already accelerating as China reacts to the world economic slowdown by investing in ever larger and grander infrastructure projects. And they have the financial reserves to do so without mortgaging their citizens’ future. All of which will soon increase the price of denims in Asda.

    Take Qingdao, a coastal city in the north east with a population rapidly rising above 3 million and a broad industrial base. Eighteen months ago factories were closing at a frightening rate and migrant workers were shown on TV returning home in their thousands. Those factories that have survived did so on a severely reduced workforce. Now the West has finished de-stocking to cope with the financial crisis of the last two years, orders are coming in again but the factories in and around Qingdao can’t fulfill them. This is because the government stepped in and decided to build a giant metro system in the city along with a huge bridge and tunnel project to improve road connections even further. Construction workers earn £300 a month. Factory workers earn £150 a month. So the factories that have the orders can’t find any labour. These two hastily started construction behemoths have hoovered up almost all the available local workforce. Apparently the big scheme currently on the drawing board for Qingdao is to tear down the newly built airport and re-site it.

    The picture all over china is similar. The infrastructure that we take for granted at home is now being rushed into existence using the reserves built up during the boom years of feeding Western consumerism. Employment levels are climbing as a result. The end effect is wage inflation as the factories compete with the construction companies, and unless china becomes completely covered in concrete the price of tank tops in the UK will go up very soon indeed.

    A successful businessman in Fuzhou recalls the riots of 1989 in which he proudly participated, wearing the mandatory bandana. He gives great credit to the central government of the time for listening to the people and loosening the reins. His vision for a democratic society lies 20 years ahead when “the majority have enough money to resist corruption, the gap between rich and poor has narrowed and the population growth has truly stabilized”. Certainly the view amongst the business community seems to be that that the powers in Beijing do a pretty good job. Child labour hasn’t been a problem in China for a very long time. They value education too highly. It’s another part of their investment philosophy, and a big reason why this country of countless millions is growing up so fast.

  • Comment number 91.

    World history is full of examples of:
    hard work->prosperity->liberalism->decadence->collapse

    no reason usa/uk should be exempt, you should see how hard the indians and chinese are prepared to work to get all the things we take for granted. its a level playing field globally and we just cannot compete. at best we can slow the process

    youth of today have had their best years. Soaked in alcohol, drugs, sex and the latest gadgets, ill equpped for hard work, they will have to pay for their massive university fees, huge house deposits, the pensions of the expanding older population (and their own), govt debt, ie if they can get a job in the first place.

  • Comment number 92.

    With regards to the current economic model and the way the financial experts view it:

    "The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair. "


    And with regards to QE and QE2

    "Since we decided to adopt the leaf as legal tender, we have all of course become immensely rich. But we have run into a small inflation problem owing to high leaf availability. That means the current rate is something like three major deciduous forests buy one ship’s peanut. In order to obviate this problem and revalue the leaf, we’ve decided on an extensive campaign of defoliation and burn down all the forests. I think that’s a sensible move, don’t you?"



    A more logical view of the insanities of current system coming out of a humerous book written nearly 3 decades ago than all the current governments of the world combined...

  • Comment number 93.

    In the West large scale state planning, much to the relief of the wealthy who would lose many of their privileges under such system, has been declared to inevitably lead to disaster. It is believed that largely unrestricted greed is a more reliable motivator of progress, and that there is no need for social programmes to provide for the needs of the masses, because the fruits of the progress will trickle down.

    The fate of the Soviet Union is cited as evidence for this view. It is arguable that the heavy burden of military expenditure that the Soviets shouldered because it was thought to be necessary to maintain the CCCP's imperial status in post world war 2 Europe, was really the main cause of its collapse.

    Perhaps China is about to prove that state planning does work, provided that the objectives of that planning are worthwhile.

  • Comment number 94.

    77. At 08:58am on 06 Nov 2010, BobRocket wrote:

    Think the answer about who will fund them is here:

    http://www.democracynow.org/2010/11/5/new_600b_fed_stimulus_fuels_fears

  • Comment number 95.

    82. At 09:57am on 06 Nov 2010, Clive Hill wrote:

    The chinese are busy people:

    An epic rebellion has now begun in China against this abuse – and it is beginning to succeed. Across 126,000 Chinese factories, workers have refused to live like this any more. Wildcat unions have sprung up, organised by text message, demanding higher wages, a humane work environment, and the right to organise freely. Millions of young workers across the country are blockading their factories and chanting, "There are no human rights here!" and, "We want freedom!"


    Last year, the Chinese dictatorship was so panicked by the widespread uprisings that it prepared an extraordinary step forward. It drafted a new labour law that would allow workers to form and elect their own trade unions.



    All there to read in an article by Johann Hari:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-and-now-for-some-good-news-2044578.html

    I think Paul Mason (Newsnight) has been observing similar things

  • Comment number 96.

    Response to post #91 on 06 Nov - 'Shivers'.

    And you imagine that the Chinese and Indian business elite are not exploiting Chinese and Indian workers???!

    Do grow up, 'Shivers'.

  • Comment number 97.

    Highly recommend post #90 @ 12:05pm on 06 Nov - 'Rodent'. Outstanding!

    Fascinating read for everyone, whether living in the so-called West, East, South or North of our planet.

    Perhaps the most smug of all political or religious persuasions; or those stuck in entrenched/brainwashed beliefs should take a few minutes to read this post? In fact, do I like this post, have I said too much, certainly. But what do I know?

    I wish I had written 'Rodent's' post.

  • Comment number 98.

    It's hard not to be amazed at the contrast between the China reported here and the America, as seen through the eyes of the TEA Party, we were given a glimpse of this week by Andrew Neil. In China there are gleaming new cities, industrial estates, rich seams of coal to mine, vast engineering and construction projects underway and people seemingly convinced that it will all work and that their lot can only improve. My abiding memory of the Andrew Neil documentary is of the abandoned car manufacturing plant - replaced by a new one across the border in Mexico -and whole neighbourhoods of empty, repossessed homes. All that was missing was some tumble weed rolling by on the harsh winds of recession.

    There's a lot of huffing and puffing at the moment about exchange rates, together with the possibility of a currency war, as if macro-monetary policy can cure a problem that has developed over the past few decades. Put simply, surely Adam Smith was right when he noted that, borrowing and the balance of trade aside, in the long run a country can only consume what it produces? In this respect America, like this country, is not producing enough and China, along with other low labour cost countries like India, Eastern Europe and Mexico for instance, are producing most of what we consume apart from food, energy, financial services and all those things-entertainment, news, information-best bundled together under the banner of 'the media'.

    It seems to me that the TEA party are not always asking the right questions because they have this unreconstituted Milton Friedman view of big government. Why are jobs so hard to come by? Maybe it's because American companies - just like many British companies - have moved production abroad to places like Mexico and China where labour is cheaper. Indeed, the success of China could be viwed as an example of how big government can harness the investment desires of private enterprise...which, admittedly, is posibly quite easy when wages are generally way below what in America - and this country too - would not even be considered subsistence income. It makes you wonder how tiny reductions in National Insurance in this country are really going to affect the investment decisions of large multinational companies.

    As with the Conservative Party in this country, the TEA Party's railing against intrusive government, meddling in the economy and people's lives, is very much in the spirit of Milton Friedman. Indeed, the current Conservative government here seems to draw a lot of its policies from his thirty year old tome, 'Free To Choose': right down to the idea of a 'universal credit', which he called a 'negative income tax'...And Gordon Brown called 'Working Tax Credit'.

    Now you can argue the pros and cons of what a government should and shouldn't do, and what you think depends as much upon where you are coming from, what your circumstances are, as to the merits of this or that argument, but the main problem with this neo-Friedmanonics ( I know, it's awful but you know what I mean) is not so much the exasperation with government size and waste but its tendancy to share his somewhat perfect free market tinted glasses view of things. Actually, though, if you read him you often get the impression that he complains about government action more because he thinks it's the wrong action rather than that there shouldn't be any government intervention at all. At the moment China appears to have a wealth creating mix of communist state control at home with a free market enterprise approach to overseas trade and investment. In many ways they are benefitting from the less interventionist free market philosophies of counries like America and ourselves.

    What's the answer? Personally, I would like to think that our salvation might lie in some sort of pure science breakthrough in the area of cheaply and efficiently making, storing and using hydrogen as a source of energy for fuel cells - the cleanest and most efficient source of energy for the future - but one suspects that assorted Chinese apparatchiks are already investing the money they've made, from things like my DVD player and trainers, in to a giant science lab with that end in view.

  • Comment number 99.

    #68. RiskAnalyst wrote:

    At least china is out there investing in other developing countries whilst it secures resources for its humongous population. What has the US or Europe ever done for developing nations, other than invade them and deplete their resources at gunpoint


    Dear oh dear. How naive you are. China is securing natural resources such as oil and gas by investing in low tech stuff for the countries concerned. It's a cheap deal for them.

    This is China.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-11703775

    One step forward, ten back.

  • Comment number 100.

    Capital projects, like buildings in a city, require expensive major modernization every 25 years or so. What is China going to be like when all of today's projects (whole cities, naval fleets etc) are due for retrofit at the same time and the billions of cheap peasant laborers that provided the funds for the current boom are no longer satisfied riding bicycles and making trinkets for next-to-nothing salaries? China is positioning itself to have some very major problems in 25 years - how will the world deal with that mess?

 

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