By Mike Caggeso
China's already steep $585 billion (4 trillion yuan) stimulus could double over the next three years to as much as $1.2 trillion (8 trillion yuan), a figure that would put the country's economic growth back on track, an economist said at a Beijing summit.
Mingchun Sun, chief China economist for Nomura International PLC, said the Chinese government could formally announce the bigger spending plan in March or April.
Since the original stimulus proposal was announced, state and local governments unleashed a long list of projects previously held back because of initial concerns of keeping growth from getting out of control, Sun said. And with a surge in bank lending in January, China is better suited to finance more infrastructure investments.
"Looked at from the perspective of demand and financing capacity, I don't think it will be a big problem to get to 7-8 trillion yuan," Sun said in estimating the size of the eventual stimulus, Reuters reported. "It could be even higher."
So far, several Chinese leaders have hinted that an increase in spending is on the way.
On Monday, the Communist Party's council said that it would bolster investment to support growth, Reuters reported. A day later, President Hu Jintao said that China would take additional steps to boost domestic demand.
More spending could set off an investment boom similar to that of the early 1990s.
"This may be a harbinger of another investment boom. The only similar big encouragement made by the central government was by the late leader Deng Xiaoping and thanks to that the economic situation took a big turn for the better," Sun said.
Deng's decision to push growth also caused inflation to peak at 24.1% in 1994, Bloomberg reported.
Two years ago, Sun forecast that China's gross domestic product (GDP) growth would slow to 8% in 2009.
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