Finite room for construction in China

China's explosive demand will finally drop from its stratospheric level, either because China's economic development falters or because China is finally totally covered over in cement.
That is Rick Bookstaber, a deeply thoughtful blogger on financial markets, in response to Jeremy Grantham's newsletter on "the mother of all paradigm shifts" (i.e., "Days of Abundant Resources and Falling Prices Are Over Forever"), which excited the likes of Cowen and Krugman.

Like Rick I am in the less apocalyptic camp, although for much prosaic reasons (he believes that eventually our resource consumption will decrease as we increasingly lead virtual lives and turn away from material consumption). As Tyler Cowen says, China cannot continue to invest 50% of its GDP forever. There is a long way to go for the world to catch up to rich-world consumption levels, but it also won't happen all at once (apply an optimistic GDP growth rate to your favorite sub-Saharan African country and you'll be shocked at how long it will take to get where China's income is today, even if everything goes well). Resource demand may not be curbed any time soon, but ultimately I have more faith in the power of prices and markets to change behavior than the doomsayers seem to.

1 comment:

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