Since the global financial crisis hit last year, Chinese officials have been firm about the need to maintain about 8% economic growth to ensure stability. Before the last office door swung shut at Lehman Brothers in New York, Beijing was planning how to get there, eventually unleashing a massive $586 billion stimulus package in the spring and freeing up lending to allow billions more to slosh into the economy. With this week’s announcement that GDP had expanded by 8.9% in the third quarter, China is well on its way to reaching its target for the year. That will make China the first major economy to emerge from the slowdown. But it is far too soon for the country’s economic mandarins to hang a “Mission Accomplished” banner.
“While we have avoided the worst recession since the Great Depression, we are probably heading for another asset bubble and more financial turbulence,” Qin Xiao, chairman of China Merchants Group, wrote in Thursday’s Financial Times. Qin said he didn’t think “a quick, steep bounce driven by fiscal fixed investment is a good thing for China,” adding that the current loose monetary policy should shift to neutral. On Thursday, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropped by 0.5% and the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.6% on concerns that China would begin to tighten monetary policy in response to fears of expanding bubbles in real estate and financial markets.