1 Slow growth as China’s new normal (Straits Times) The markets came down last week when China announced its projected growth rate for 2015 at 7 per cent, after clocking the slowest growth in 24 years last year (at 7.4 per cent). The nervousness flows from China’s key role in contributing substantially to global growth in output and international trade since the Asian financial crisis of 1997.
Yet, China’s new normal – as its leaders call the slower growth that is to continue for some years – is not as dire as it appears at first glance. A transition of the globe’s second-largest economy towards a more sustainable and, hopefully, better-quality growth model would benefit the world as a whole.
As it is, 7 per cent growth will mean an increase of $790 billion to China’s economy over the next 12 months. This still represents a substantial increase in opportunity to exporters, particularly those from economies with relatively slower growth. In relative terms, the 7 per cent growth this year is still more positive for the global economy than an 11 to 12 per cent growth rate was 10 years ago, given the much larger size of the Chinese economy now.
All that would be a sop to those who set great store by the essential reforms that China needs to undertake to address deep-seated issues weighing on the nation. Structural reforms, for example, are needed to increase the role of private business, encourage innovation and grow the services sector – so as to reduce reliance on a debt-laden, investment-driven growth model.
Further, the relatively cheap labour that powers its export-oriented industries is drying up as wages rise in tandem with costs and its population ages. Hence, China has to make necessary changes, however wrenching it is and however determined the resistance of vested interests.
2 Why the euro is tumbling (San Francisco Chronicle) The euro is notching one milestone after another as it drops against major currencies. On Wednesday, it hit a 12-year low against the dollar and many think its descent has further to go. So what has prompted the euro’s plunge?
Euro excess: The main reason is the European Central Bank has not only cut interest rates but also started creating more euros to put into the financial system. The ECB had been reluctant to do so for years, but in 2014 it changed course. The hope is that the 18-month 1.1 trillion-euro ($1.12 trillion) monetary stimulus will shore up the economic recovery and get inflation back into the system.
Fed factor: The euro has fallen against many currencies, but its drop has been particularly pronounced against the dollar. That’s because while the ECB’s policies have been weakening the euro, the US Federal Reserve’s are bolstering the dollar. As the American economy keeps growing and creating jobs, the Fed ended its own bond-buying stimulus program and says it is ready to soon start raising interest rates.
Greece lightning: Concerns over a Greek exit from the euro have been an additional burden on the euro over the past few months. The rise of a radical new government in Athens that wants to renegotiate a large part of the country’s bailout terms has raised the prospect of a “Grexit.”
Stunted growth: Many eurozone economies still have trouble growing, and that has discouraged some investors from putting their money in the currency bloc. At the very least, the economic outlook for the eurozone isn’t rosy, and that’s likely to require lower interest rates from the ECB than the Fed, for example, and that prospect has been another reason hurting the euro.
3 Why bosses won’t ‘like’ Gen Z (Ronald Alsop on BBC) Now that they think they finally understand millennials, some employers and consultants are already trying to size up the next generation of workers. They’re analysing the teenagers and children born since 2000 to predict how they may resemble or differ from millennials.
At this point, the consensus is that the millennials’ successors will be even more addicted to technology and struggle more to focus on work. But because they’ve grown up amid terrorism and a dire global recession, these children and teenagers are expected to be more cautious and more sceptical than millennials (born in the 1980s and 1990s), as well as to have more realistic expectations about career opportunities.
There is still much debate about what to name the newest generation. Generation Z is popular so far, but may not stick. What Gen Z — or whatever the group will ultimately be called — will mean to employers remains a subject of speculation, of course, but corporate recruiters and consultants claim they can detect some early trends.
In some respects, Gen Zers will likely be magnified versions of the millennials, especially in terms of technology. Since they like to digest information faster and faster, often through videos and things like Snapchat, their attention spans are likely to be even lower than millennials’. There will be issues around their ability to concentrate, which employers will have to adapt to.
Gen Zers may be shaped by some of the frightening global events that have occurred during their childhood. Because they’ve lived so much with insecurity and anxiety, they are likely to be more cautious. That caution could carry over to their careers and personal finances, making them less willing to take risks. Gen Z is expected to be more pragmatic than millennials, realising opportunities aren’t boundless and that they need to master in-demand skills.
The bad news for employers is that Gen Z is more likely to be distrustful of big companies and other institutions, having witnessed the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath, the domestic spying by the US National Security Agency, and the inability of government officials in the US and other countries to work together to solve pressing problems. Some fear that this generation may adopt the scepticism of their Gen X parents, questioning foundational institutions like organised religion, college, marriage, even capitalism.