40 minutes | May 20th 2020

Chinese Economic Reforms Are Already a Thing of the Past: Dexter Roberts

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Dexter Roberts joins the podcast to discuss his book "The Myth of Chinese Capitalism."

In Roberts' view, economic reforms have already been curtailed under current political leadership. China's middle class, which has grown almost exponentially in recent decades, remains limited mostly to large coastal cities. The rural countryside, which still represents half the country's population, remains well below the middle class -- and is stuck there, in part due to outdated demographic policies.

The options for Chinese policymakers are limited. They have so far not managed to spread the wealth effects of their "pivot" to a services-based economy, and may have even exacerbated the problem. This all has wide-ranging consequences: for China, for western companies, and for the world.

Content Segments (Spotify users can click on the timestamp to link to the section directly)

  • The first myth: capitalism as short hand for economic reforms (5:39)
  • The second key myth: the middle class will inexorably continue to grow larger (6:35)
  • The global supply-chain diversification, started several years ago and exacerbated by COVID-19, is effectively ending China's "factory to the world" model (9:21)
  • Authorities' options are very limited (10:45)
  • Where does this leave Chinese consumers? The days of western companies expanding sales through the growth of China's middle class are gone (13:10)
  • Background on the gust (20:15)
  • What might the future of China hold? (25:09) The possibility of social unrest (27:14)
  • Brief discussion of Hong Kong: "Don't think that the protests are over." (30:22)

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