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Frontiers of Economics in China

, Volume 11 Issue 2

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Orginal Article
China’s Macroeconomic Outlook and Risk Assessment: Counterfactual Analysis, Policy Simulation, and Long-Term Governance — A Summary of Annual Report (2015–2016)
Kevin X. D. Huang,Guoqiang Tian
Front. Econ. China. 2016, 11 (2): 173-191.
Abstract   PDF (5436KB)

This summary report highlights the confluence of continued downward pressures and deflation scares in the face of looming uncertainty in China’s key macroeconomic landscapes. Counterfactual analyses and policy simulations are conducted, in addition to benchmark forecasts, based on IAR-CMM model and taking into account both cyclical and secular factors. Economic deceleration is projected to continue in the short to medium term, with real GDP growth declining to 6.3% (5.5% using more reliable instead of official data) in 2016 and facing a significant risk of sliding further down in 2017. Five key factors contributing to the weak outlook, additional to frictions and impediments associated with economic transition/restructuring and lackluster domestic/external demands, are identified, including: lack of new growth/ development engine, exhaustion of government-led driving force, the crowding-out of private sectors by state-owned enterprises (SOEs) with excess capacity\capital overhang, nonperforming government sectors and officials, and twist or misinterpretation of the “New Normal.” A root cause of these problems, lying with sluggishness in China’s transformation into a market based economy, has to do with overpowered government but underpowered market in resource allocation and government underperformance in enforcing integrity and transparency in the marketplace and in providing public goods and services. At the nexus between inclusive growth and institutional transformation are market oriented and rule of law governed structural reforms and harmonious development. As such, fundamental institutional reforms that dialectically balance demand and supply side factors and properly weigh short run stabilization against long run development should be elevated to the top of the agenda.

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China’s Growth Prospects
Robert Barro
Front. Econ. China. 2016, 11 (2): 192-195.
Abstract   PDF (143KB)

China’s diminished growth prospects are in the news and seem to spell bad news for just about everybody. This article assesses the evidence, arguing that China’s economic growth will be much slower from now on, reducing international trade. Perhaps the biggest challenge for China will be future political tensions in reconciling economic dreams with economic realities.

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The Possibility and Approaches to an Upper Middle Growth Rate
Jiwei Lou
Front. Econ. China. 2016, 11 (2): 196-209.
Abstract   PDF (213KB)

This article discusses the challenges facing China’s economy and assesses the likelihood of China falling into the “middle-income trap.” In the view of this author, an upper middle growth rate of 6.5% to 7% can be achieved if China undertakes further economic reforms in the areas of agriculture, household registration system, urbanization and social insurance system.

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China’s Reform: History, Logic and Future
Guoqiang Tian
Front. Econ. China. 2016, 11 (2): 210-231.
Abstract   PDF (239KB)

This paper is a brief introduction of the core content and basic concepts of the book China’s Reform: History, Logic and Future, and gives answers to questions such as why China’s reform and opening-up policy has achieved great success, why the catch-up mode, extensive and extractive development mode China adopted in the past three decades are no longer sustainable and what China’s market-oriented reforms should aim to achieve in the next stage so that readers can have a profound understanding of China’s reform. Planning ahead, from the perspective of sustainable economic development, China badly needs to transform from factor-driven growth to efficiency-driven and innovation-driven growth, the key to which is to further encourage the liberalization of thought, promote reform and opening-up, unswervingly follow the path of economic liberalization, marketization and privatization, to establish an inclusive modern market system, to allow the market to play a decisive role in resource allocation and the private economy to play a dominant role in the national economy. The market-oriented reform is a complicated project and China is faced with at least three different aspects of reform in some key areas—the main body of private economy, the liberalization of financial market and the marketization of land. Meanwhile, China needs to efficiently balance three elements of good governance, that is, the rule of law, execution and democratic supervision, so as to facilitate the modernization of state governance system and governance capability.

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Precautionary Saving and Health Insurance: A Portfolio Choice Perspective
Jiaping Qiu
Front. Econ. China. 2016, 11 (2): 232-264.
Abstract   PDF (938KB)

This paper analyzes the impact of health insurance on household portfolio choice. Using the U.S. Survey of Consumer Finance and Health Retirement Survey databases, it finds that insured households are more likely to own stocks and invest a larger proportion of financial assets in stocks than uninsured households do. The results remain strong even after controlling for household characteristics and reverse causality. Further, the results are robust across different survey years and data sources. It suggests that a precautionary motive is strong in household portfolio choice decisions.

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Labour Markets in China: A Study of the Structure and Evolution of Wages
Xiaobing Wang,Jenifer Piesse,Zhengmao Ye
Front. Econ. China. 2016, 11 (2): 265-301.
Abstract   PDF (1055KB)

This paper examines the development of labour markets and the evolution of a structure of wages in China, using household surveys for 1988, 1995, 2002 and 2007. It finds evidence of both provincial and sectoral segmentation in labour markets, with eastern regions and the state-controlled sector enjoying high wage premiums in the early reform period. During the reform, China has progressed slowly towards an integrated labour market with convergence in incomes between the rural non-agriculture sector and the urban market-based sector by 1995, when industry flourished in the rural areas. The wage gap between the rural non-agriculture sector and other sectors increased and the urban state-controlled sector remained segmented with respect to all other sectors up to 2002. However, the data from 2007 show there has been increasing sectoral and spatial integration.

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How County-Level Agricultural Loans and Fiscal Expenditure Impact Rural Residents’ Income in China——An Empirical Study of the Hierarchical Effect by Quantile Regression
Xiaohua Wang,Li Liu
Front. Econ. China. 2016, 11 (2): 302-320.
Abstract   PDF (718KB)

Using cross-sectional data from 853 counties in 11 western China provinces, we employ quantile regression (QR) and instrumental variable quantile regression (IVQR) to investigate the hierarchical effect of fiscal expenditure and agricultural loan on rural residents’ income. We find: (1) the relationship between agricultural loan and income is consistent with the inverted U-shape (Kuznets curve); (2) the coefficient of quantile regression for rural residents’ loan gradually decreases; particularly, the impact on the high-income group is insignificant (at 0.90 quantile); (3) for 0.10 and 0.50 quantile, the increase of fiscal expenditure would hinder rather than promote income growth; (4) the restraining effect becomes more pronounced for the lower groups; in contrast, there is a significant positive relationship between income and fiscal expenditure for 0.90 quantile’s income group. Implications for government policy formulation are propounded accordingly.

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Corporate Investment and Tax Disincentive: Evidence from China
Weibo Xing
Front. Econ. China. 2016, 11 (2): 321-350.
Abstract   PDF (613KB)

This study investigates how taxes influence corporate investment behavior. Based on a census of Chinese industrial enterprises, we utilize a tax-adjusted q model to examine the effects of taxes on corporate investment in fixed assets in China. Results show that the effective tax rate has a relatively small but significantly negative impact on Chinese firms’ investment in fixed assets. We extend the tax-adjusted q model to control for the lagged investment effect and peer effect of investment. Models with these effects do better at explaining the impact of taxes on firms’ investment. The lagged investment models present smaller but significant tax disincentive. Firms compete for investment with other firms both in the same region and in the same industry through peer effect. In addition, the tax disincentive differs among state owned enterprises, private enterprises, and other enterprises in China.

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8 articles