Wednesday 21 December 2022

Covid in China: inflexion point?

What's going on in China?  Nobody really knows.  One thing's for (almost) certain - you lift the covid restrictions on urban populations that have been locked down like wot they have for two years, with omega (and maybe other variants) in the breeze - and it's going to go through them like a dose of salts.

There are several aspects of major interest - Western self interest - of which here are a couple.

(1) Economic: the lid has only been kept on the seething global energy cauldron (what lid !? - I hear you say.  Oh yes, gas prices could have gone higher still) because the Chinese economy has been well and truly on hold whilst in lockdown.  With a property crash, and declining retail sales.  And that hasn't just "suppressed" (relative term) worldwide energy prices: it's the same for all the major raw materials.  You think you've seen price spikes?  Well, if the lifting of lockdown works out positively for China in GDP terms, you ain't seen nothing.

I know some large gas players who are making a massive bet on this.  Personally, whilst fully acknowledging what could happen, I'm not at all sure it will.  Sickness on a vast scale may not be so easily consistent with revitalising that monster economy. 

(2) Political:  what did it take for Xi to backtrack on a lockdown policy that had his name all over it in bold logograms?  With serious protest already building - and then the TV-watching public noticing that The Whole Of The Rest Of The Entire World (as represented in World Cup spectators) were mingling closely and happily with not a mask in sight.

Well, presumably the CPC still reckons it can command the information space, and will convert the screeching U-turn into a personal triumph.  Of sorts.  But maybe not.  Maybe everyone can now see he's for turning when the right combination of factors applies.  And maybe his U-turn has really awkward consequences ...

Hmm.  China-watching in '23 is going to be interesting.  And those gas prices.



Matt said...

ESG investing was always virtue signalling for the usual middle class twits - go long hydrocarbons for the rest of us.

andrew said...

Stop sitting on the fence ND. Make a prediction. i hear the still small voice of a competition.

Nick Drew said...

We do seem to be assembling several binary questions for the Jan compo

Bill Quango MP said...

Three direct debit hikes in six months. I’ve had to put a complaint in about it.

If energy prices do go higher, we either go under, or there is a subsidy.
Shame that furlough went on far, far past the costs could bear.

E-K said...

Or maybe another experiment really has gone wrong and we're in for a more lethal strain.

Just how much PPE and anti viral are we going to need to continue trading with this nation ?

As much as they tell us we're going to need is my guess. We have no choice but to keep buying their stuff.

And they have no choice but to keep getting more powerful. Failure is not an option.

Anonymous said...

Remember the 90s add "the end of History"? History seems to be rattling along at a fair rate these days. I hope ND comments at some stage on 2022 being a record year for the amount of coal burned globally.

If anyone has the time and inclination to look at the root causes of what's happening in Ukraine and elsewhere in the former USSR I strongly recommend this book. It's a rattling good read on so many levels. He's definitely from the realist school - no good or bad nations for him, it's interests, interests, interests.

From 1997, “The Grand Chessboard – American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives” by Zbigniew Brzezinski.

"it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger should emerge capable of dominating Eurasia and thus also of challenging America’s global pre-eminence"

“support for the new post-Soviet states—for geopolitical pluralism in the space of the former Soviet empire—has to be an integral part of a policy designed to induce Russia to exercise unambiguously its European option. Among these states, three are geopolitically especially important: Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine....Most important, however, is Ukraine... As the EU and NATO expand, Ukraine will eventually be in the position to choose whether it wishes to be part of either organization...Russia will find it incomparably harder to acquiesce in Ukraine’s accession to NATO"

Anonymous said...

Brzezinski definitely isn't complimentary about the EU, which included the UK at the time of writing. He draws a parallel with the "vassal states" of the Roman Empire - and given how the EU has acquiesced in the huge damage to its industry, I see his point. Whatever happened to the dream of an independent EU foreign policy?

Anonymous said...

Jeremy Hunt is a lying toerag

"High inflation driven by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is slowing economic growth across the world."

How about "High inflation driven by our policy responses to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is slowing economic growth across the world."?

And economic growth in US/Canada is just fine, as they're energy sufficient and are selling the surplus to Europe! (in Canada's case by shipping wood chips to Drax - "green energy")

Anonymous said...

I just noticed - Canada has mass legal immigration on a scale which makes Blair and Barbara Roche look like pikers. Given that, Canada's performance is pretty poor. I think per capita gdp is down.

E-K said...

*** Christmas Joke ***

Guy walks into an upmarket cafe' and the pianist is playing the most beautiful tune he's ever heard.

"What's that tune ?" Asks the guy

"You've Lost Your Wig and Pissed on Your Shoes" says the pianist.

"Oh. OK. Can you play another ?"

And so the pianist plays another tune only more beautiful

"My God ! What's that one called ?"

The pianist says, "You've Singed Your Eyebrows and Puked on Your Shirt."

"Oh." says the guy and pauses, "I'd really like you to play at my Christmas party, only ... um ...could you dress as Santa and be sure NOT to speak to any of my friends ? £500 quid ???"

"Sure." says the pianist and the deal is struck.

The night of the Christmas party the pianist turns up dressed as Santa and the guy shakes hands with him and says "Remember... don't play your tunes and don't tell anyone what they're called. Just play Christmas music."

The pianist says "OK. But Christmas tunes are not my best and I'm a bit nervous... can I go to the toilet first and get some Dutch courage ?"

"Sure." says the guy and watches as the 'Santa' pianist goes off into the toilet with a bottle of Famous Grouse that he's pulled from his pocket.

Half an our later the pianist emerges in a right state, staggering and barely able to stand at all. The guy says to him "Do you know you've lost your beard and shat your pants !"

The pianist says "Of course I do ! I WROTE THAT TUNE !"

dearieme said...

"Inflexion point"

I do like that old spelling. Is it possible, though, that you mean turning point? It seems rude to ask but almost every journalist and blogger gets it wrong.