The Economist: Emerging Economies: Decoupling 2.0
REMEMBER the debate about decoupling? A year ago, many commentators—including this newspaper—argued that emerging economies had become more resilient to an American recession, thanks to their strong domestic markets and prudent macroeconomic policies. Naysayers claimed America’s weakness would fell the emerging world. Over the past six months the global slump seemed to prove the sceptics right. Emerging economies reeled and decoupling was ridiculed.
Yet perhaps the idea was dismissed too soon. Even if America’s output remains weak, there are signs that some of the larger emerging economies could see a decent rebound. China is exhibit A of this new decoupling: its economy began to accelerate again in the first four months of this year. Fixed investment is growing at its fastest pace since 2006 and consumption is holding up well. Despite debate over the accuracy of China’s GDP figures (see article), most economists agree that output will grow faster than seemed plausible only a few months ago. Growth this year could be close to 8%. Such optimism has fuelled commodity prices which have, in turn, brightened the outlook for Brazil and other commodity exporters.
That said, even the best performing countries will grow more slowly than they did between 2004 and 2007. Nor will the resilience be universal: eastern Europe’s indebted economies will suffer as global banks cut back, and emerging economies intertwined with America, such as Mexico, will continue to be hit hard. So will smaller, more trade-dependent countries. Decoupling 2.0 is a narrower phenomenon, confined to a few of the biggest, and least indebted, emerging economies. ...