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China’s invisible influence

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China may be an even bigger economic deal than we thought. Almost everyone knows that, in the past three decades, China has gone from a huge and poor nation to the world’s biggest exporter and second-largest economy. Now, in a new report, two economists claim that China’s emergence explains a lot more. Specifically, they say it fostered three major global trends: low interest rates (which also prop up stock prices); weak or declining wages for workers; and growing economic inequality.

The central cause of these massive side effects is population change, contend Charles Goodhart of the London School of Economics and Manoj Pradhan, formerly of Morgan Stanley. The infusion of hundreds of millions of Chinese workers into the world economy weakened global wages and created a glut of global savings. Lagging wages worsened inequality; surplus savings depressed interest rates.

Here is the economists’ crucial demographic arithmetic.

In 1990, what we called the “world economy”........

© Washington Post