A security guard stands in front of a stock ticker while watching Xi Jinping speak during a news conference. Huaibei, Anhui province, 2012. (Courtesy Reuters)
With China’s political transition now complete, the country -- and the world economy -- is left with a pressing question: Does the new team in Beijing have the vision and the political will to revive stalled yet crucial economic reforms? Few observers are optimistic about the answer.
A growing chorus of pessimists, in China and elsewhere, has coalesced around three central arguments. The first group, call them the “economic cynics,” argues that the bar for reform is just too high. This is because several underlying economic problems, including a real estate bubble, have worsened at precisely the moment that China’s economic growth has slowed. Chinese officials’ traditional solution to economic slowdowns -- accelerating exports -- has become harder in light of declining demand in
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