Posts Tagged ‘Peter Schiff’

Can China save Australia?

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Today, we watched SBS’s Insight program, Greed. It is basically a small forum where audiences and experts mingle together and talk about the global financial crisis. Near the end, Peter Schiff said that Australia will be fine because China’s insatiable demand for commodities will intensify as the Chinese revert to consuming their own produce. This will intensify China’s demand for Australia’s commodities, which means that Australia will be in a very safe position.

Here, we disagree with Peter Schiff. Our reasoning goes like this:

  1. Yes, in the very long run, as we said before in Example of a secular trend- commodities and the upcoming rise of a potential superpower, China’s demand for commodities will continue to grow. But the question is what happens in the interim (i.e. the short to medium term). The worst case is a epic bust for the Chinese economy (see Can China really ?de-couple? from a US recession?). The best case is a slow-down. In between these two scenarios is a major Chinese economic correction. Furthermore, we believe that this slowdown could be within the designs of the Chinese government in order to achieve their long-term plans. We will talk more about it in the coming articles.
  2. Australia has a very highly leveraged economy (see Aussie household debt not as bad as it seems?). It is this high leverage that can be the undoing of Australia’s economy in the interim.

This is a subtle point that eludes many people, including the experts. Sure, the end point may be a paradise in the mountain peak. But it is a mistake to assume that the path to the mountain peak is an upward slopping straight line. The current high leverage of the Australian economy can pull us down to a deep valley of hell in the interim. The problem is, many will not survive through the valley and for those who survive, they will be transformed (and even scarred) by the experience.