Seeking Alpha has an interesting article The Power of the Market: 600 Million People Lifted Out of Poverty Since 1981. The article comes with two graphs, one of which is above.
This shows that there has been a gradual fall in numbers of poor since 1981, but there was a bump in the years from about 1988 to 1994, when the numbers of poor stubbornly resisted to fall. This was a time of high inflation in China.
Do I need to tell you what happened in China in 1989?
This graph gives a rough indication that as long as the Chinese government is able to show a descending line that poverty numbers are going down in absolute terms, then the government’s position is safe. If inflation should pick up and the number of poor goes up, then they have something to worry about.
So far, developments on the economic front have been going well in China, with the noted exception of high inflation in China, much of which is due to higher commodity costs (food and energy costs) and capital inflows. Much of the capital inflow into China is due to investors who want to get out of the US dollar, and see China as the most attractive growth market for their money.
Rising inflation is usually an early indicator of other economic and social problems to come.
A few years ago, investment money coming into China was welcomed with open arms, but now times have changed, and the government doesn’t see them nearly as favorably as they did just one year ago. Capital inflows which are liquid can come into China, and also leave it very quickly, leaving the country’s economy and society in a lurch, just as it did during the Asian financial crisis of 1997 for the countries of Southeast Asia.
With the US economy heading for the dumpster, and Europe showing signs of weakness due to rising energy prices, that is not something the Chinese government wants. It is more than likely that the Chinese government will do anything to keep those poverty numbers going down in China, regardless of what it means for the rest of the global economy.
The need for social stability in China trumps everything else. Including commitments to globalization and the WTO.
Fasten your seat belts.