Scholars and policymakers in China have not yet reached a consensus on whether stimulating consumption is the top priority for the Chinese economy at the moment. Some economists argue more about the need to boost growth by expanding investment, as they believe that stable investment will be the fastest way to encourage economic expansion.
My understanding is that competent policymaking departments and economists need to better realize and identify the importance of boosting consumption. Under China’s 20 years of stabilizing investment through infrastructure construction, it is necessary to completely change such concepts and realize the significance of encouraging consumption. There is still a lot of work to be done on this front. If this year’s policy is still the same as last year’s and the year before, it will affect growth stabilization performance in 2023.
What makes stimulating consumption for growth so important? The main reason behind it is that China’s economic structure has changed. In normal situations, consumption contributes about 65 percent of GDP growth in China. Therefore, as the proportion of fiscal funds spent to stabilize growth conforms to the economic structure, roughly 65 percent of fiscal funds are used to stabilize consumption, and the remaining 35 percent are put toward stabilizing investment. Yet, in practice, most of the fiscal funds are used to stabilize investment. This disrupts the overall growth structure.
With China’s economy developing and upgrading rapidly, consumption has now become the core factor in economic growth. The country has moved beyond the stage of 20 years of rapid urbanization and rapid industrialization, and infrastructure investment has been oversaturated. Therefore, if the method of stabilizing investment is once again applied to stabilize growth, it will seriously distort the driving force of China’s economic growth. However, I think such understanding has not yet been widely recognized by economists and policymakers, and therefore, further study on this matter is needed.
China’s previous strategy of stabilizing investment has caused distortions in the overall fiscal expenditure structure. Last year, China’s total GDP reached 114 trillion yuan ($16.2 trillion). The total amount of investment in fixed assets was 55 trillion yuan, while fixed-asset investment accounted for 48 percent of GDP. In comparison, in developed countries such as the United States, Australia, Japan and European nations, the annual total investment in fixed assets accounts for only about 20 percent of the country’s GDP.Long-term distorted structure caused by China’s large proportion of fixed asset investment in GDP is unsustainable.
I would argue that if the current economic structure is corrected and adjusted in the next 10 years, investment in fixed assets will drop from 55 trillion yuan to 30-40 trillion yuan and then decline further. Its high growth will undoubtedly crowd out consumption in the economy, and have a negative impact.
Here are some ways to boost consumption:
First, efforts should be made to promote consumption in terms of raising incomes, instead of working from the production standpoint. Since 2020, in Europe and the United States, the key measure to stabilize consumption has been to issue consumption vouchers to residents, and this has generated a notable effect in boosting the economy. If people’s disposable incomes decline, consumption will definitely drop. Therefore, efforts must be made to find a way to increase disposable income of Chinese consumers. However, if we talk about increasing disposable incomes and only work on stabilizing employment, it would not be sustainable over the long term. It is a long-term policy to stabilize employment as well as improve the social security system, medical system and education system, whatever the circumstances are. The core of stabilizing consumption is to increase household incomes. One way to bring this about is to increase current incomes; that is, issue consumption vouchers or money to residents. It is the correct way to stabilize consumption from the income side. Another way of effecting this is to increase investment income, such as making the stock market more prosperous, so that everyone makes money, thus leading to higher consumption.
Second, efforts should be made to increase the public’s marginal propensity to consume by cutting interest rates. The best way to increase the marginal propensity to consume in the short term is, in fact, by reducing interest rates, which frees up credit. The two methods for stabilizing consumption in Europe and the US in 2020 were distribution of money and lowering of interest rates. By raising incomes through distribution of money and lowering of interest rates, it is possible to increase the general public’s marginal propensity to consume. People’s incomes are divided into two parts. One part is used for saving and the other part is used for consumption. When savings increase, consumption decreases. Savings are closely related and very responsive to interest rate changes. When Europe and the US faced economic downturn pressure in 2020 and wanted to stabilize consumption, they once lowered interest rates to zero or even negative. But China seems to be more conservative with regards to cutting interest rates.
There are many reasons for China to be shy about cutting interest rates. These include the need to prevent real estate bubbles, avoid a stock market sell-off, safeguard against rampant inflation, and stabilize the RMB exchange rate. The goal of monetary policy is complicated and has many facets. It needs to work not only to maintain economic growth, but also to stabilize prices, support the capital market, undergird the housing market and stabilize the exchange rate. Currently, in terms of the stock market, the Chinese bourse has a flat performance during the past 10 years, and share prices of many listed companies have fallen to historic lows. A rise in the stock market can increase investment income and benefit consumption. In terms of prices, China’s producer price index has entered negative growth since October. Currently, we do not have serious inflation, so from the perspective of prices, cutting interest rates will also work. In terms of the RMB exchange rate, now that the appreciation of the US dollar has ended and interest rate hikes outside China have slowed, the pressure of RMB appreciation is gradually picking up. Therefore, to increase the public’s marginal propensity to consume and to stabilize consumption, we should cut interest rates.
In addition, it is also very important to boost consumption by creating consumption scenarios with engaging consumption activities, where consumers can truly interact with shops and products. If consumers cannot have such interactions, contact consumption in many scenarios will not be realized. This involves the impact of COVID-19 and how to contain the pandemic in a science-based, accurate way, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.
To sum up, only by realizing the importance of consumption and work on the income front, cutting interest rates and creating more engaging scenarios for consumption can the Chinese economy likely see a rebound in the first quarter of next year.
The views don’t necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
The author is the director of the Wanbo New Economic Research Institute.
Zacks Investment Ideas feature highlights: Alphabet, Tesla, Shopify, Amazon and Palo Alto
For Immediate Release
Chicago, IL – February 2, 2023 – Today, Zacks Investment Ideas feature highlights Alphabet GOOGL, Tesla TSLA, Shopify SHOP, Amazon AMZN and Palo Alto Networks PANW.
Which of These Stocks Has Been the Best Buy, Post-Split?
Stock splits have been a regular occurrence in the market over the last several years, with many companies aiming to boost liquidity within shares and knock down barriers for potential investors.
Of course, it’s important to remember that a split doesn’t directly impact a company’s financial standing or performance.
In 2022, several companies performed splits, including Alphabet, Tesla, Shopify, Amazon and Palo Alto Networks. Below is a chart illustrating the performance of all five stocks over the last year, with the S&P 500 blended in as a benchmark.
As we can see, PANW shares have been the best performers over the last year, the only to outperform the general market.
However, which has turned in a better performance post-split? Let’s take a closer look.
We’re all familiar with Tesla, which has revolutionized the EV (electric vehicle) industry. It’s been one of the best-performing stocks over the last decade, quickly becoming a favorite among investors.
Earlier in June of 2022, the mega-popular EV manufacturer announced that its board approved a three-for-one stock split; shares began trading on a split-adjusted basis on August 25th, 2022.
Since the split, Tesla shares have lost roughly 40% in value, widely underperforming relative to the S&P 500.
Palo Alto Networks
Palo Alto Networks offers network security solutions to enterprises, service providers, and government entities worldwide.
PANW’s three-for-one stock split in mid-September seemingly flew under the radar. The company’s shares started trading on a split-adjusted basis on September 14th, 2022.
Following the split, PANW shares have struggled to gain traction, down roughly 15% compared to the S&P 500’s 3.3% gain.
Shopify provides a multi-tenant, cloud-based, multi-channel e-commerce platform for small and medium-sized businesses.
SHOP shares started trading on a split-adjusted basis on June 29th, 2022; the company performed a 10-for-1 split.
Impressively, Shopify shares have soared for a 50% gain since the split, crushing the general market’s performance.
Alphabet has evolved from primarily being a search engine into a company with operations in cloud computing, ad-based video and music streaming, autonomous vehicles, and more.
Last February, the tech titan announced a 20-for-1 split, and investors cheered on the news – GOOGL shares climbed 7% the day following the announcement. Shares started trading on a split-adjusted basis on July 18th, 2022.
Alphabet shares have sailed through challenging waters since the split, down 10% and lagging behind the S&P 500.
Amazon has evolved into an e-commerce giant with global operations. The company also enjoys a dominant position within the cloud computing space with its Amazon Web Services (AWS) operations.
AMZN’s 20-for-1 split was a bit of a surprise, as it was the company’s first split since 1999. Shares started trading on a split-adjusted basis on June 6th, 2022.
Following the split, Amazon shares have lost roughly 18% in value, well off the general market’s performance.
Stock splits are typically exciting announcements that investors can receive, with companies aiming to boost liquidity within shares.
Interestingly enough, only Shopify shares reside in the green post-split of the five listed.
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$13 million investment in Campbellford Memorial Hospital
The Campbellford Memorial Hospital will be receiving a $13 million investment from the Ontario Government to address infrastructure concerns.
The announcement was made at the hospital by Northumberland—Peterborough South MPP David Piccini.
The $13 million is broken down as follows:
- $9,639,900 will be going to CMH as one-time capital funding to address the HVAC and generator
- $1,874,929 for reimbursement of CMH’s COVID-19-related capital expenses
- $771,797 in COVID-19 incremental operating funding
- up to $600,000 in one-time funding to support the hospital’s in-year financial and operating pressures
- $163,600 in pandemic prevention and containment funding
- $81,132 through the Health Infrastructure Renewal Fund
- $46,884 in health human resources funding.
Interim President and CEO Eric Hanna welcomed the news, saying much needs to be done about the HVAC and generator.
At the announcement, Hanna spoke of the issues with the generator.
“I’ve got the wee little generator up at the lake and then I’m thinking well, everything should be going well at the hospital,” Hanna told the audience in attendance.
“You get a call from the person in charge who says, ‘Guess what Eric? Generator didn’t start. Oh, so what does that mean? There’s no power in the hospital.’ That’s happened a couple of times in the past year and the generator is over 30 years old.”
Hanna says the solution was not as easy as replacing the generator.
“You can go buy the generator and that may be about a million dollars. But then when we found out afterwards, we came to hook up the new generator to the electrical distribution system and said it won’t work with that because your electrical distribution system is 1956. You can’t plug this generator into that. So now we’re putting close to $5 million into a whole electrical distribution system so the generator will work. It’s part of that ongoing thing and that’s why these costs continue to go up.”
The HVAC system was also something addressed by Hanna.
“It’s a contract close to $7 million to replace that. This wing, for example. There’s no fresh air in this wing. It hasn’t worked in here for 15 years. So now this is administrative areas and the concern was that in some of the patient carriers, it wasn’t working either. So – having those discussions with David (Piccini) and saying what we have to do to correct this.”
Chile’s Enap Set to Slash Debt Burden That Weighed on Investment
(Bloomberg) — Enap, Chile’s state oil and gas company, plans to use near-record earnings to slash its debt burden, while increasing investment in its refineries and in exploration and production.
The company aims to reduce its debt load to about $3 billion “medium term” from the current $4.3 billion, Chief Executive Officer Julio Friedmann said in an interview. Plans include a bond sale in the first half of this year to refinance some securities.
The improved financial position — with 2022 profit surging to $575 million — comes after Enap’s oil and gas operations in Egypt, Ecuador and Argentina got a boost from high crude prices, while healthy international refining margins benefited plants in Chile. Those trends are expected to extend into this year and next, enabling the company to pre-pay some short-term obligations. About half of the current debt burden matures in the next three years.
“We are going to issue bonds,” the MIT-trained executive said Wednesday from the Aconcagua refinery in central Chile. “We are closely evaluating the local and international markets.”
At the same time, Friedmann, who took the reins at Enap in November, plans to increase capital expenditure to about $700 million this year from $550 million last year.
The increase comes after underinvestment in the past few years because of Covid restrictions and the heavy debt load. Spending will focus on making treatment processes cleaner and upgrading infrastructure, as well as a more aggressive approach to increasing gas reserves in the far south of the country, he said.
Enap plans to expand in both liquefied petroleum gas and natural gas markets in Chile, focusing on the wholesale business and eventually selling directly to large-scale consumers such as mines. Organizational changes to enable the expansion will be announced soon. There are no plans to enter the final distribution business, Friedmann said. The company wants to supply more gas to southern cities as a way of replacing dirtier fuels such as wood and diesel.
Enap and its partners are also preparing pipelines and a refinery near Concepcion to start receiving crude from Argentina’s Neuquen basin sometime this year in an arrangement that could supply as much as 30% of its needs.
While there’s plenty of potential do collaborate more with energy-rich Argentina, particularly in the Magallanes area, that would require greater long-term visibility on supplies from the neighboring country, Friedmann said.
He sees a role for Enap in the development of green hydrogen in Chile. It’s in talks with three companies to enable its facilities in Magallanes to be used to receive all the wind turbines, electrolyzers and other equipment that will be needed to make the clean fuel. Enap is also evaluating its own small pilot plants and will consider whether to take up options to enter other green hydrogen projects as an equity partner.
While the company will maintain its focus on meeting rising demand for traditional fuels, it anticipates new regulation that will require lower emissions. It’s also looking closely at clean-fuel options for aviation, Friedmann said.
(Adds clean fuel plans in last paragraph. I previous version corrected spelling of CEO’s surname.)
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