The falling Chinese stock market is a frightening spectacle, given that China has been a driving force behind global growth for decades.
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- How to Digest China's Credit Crunch Cereal
- Is This the End of Cheap Chinese Labor?
- Why China's "Blindside" Could Be A Great Buying Opportunity
- Chinese Homebuyers Throw a Life Raft to the U.S. Housing Market
- China's Economy Continues to Ascend – But Watch Out for Speed Bumps
China has just made another strike against the U.S. dollar with a new “world bank” – the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
By now 57 countries have been approved to join forces in this $50 billion global economic “superpower” cooperative – and the United States is not one of them.
China's stock market is creating an ideal moment to invest, although if you ask any of the pundits out there, they'll quickly tell you otherwise.
But we know better.
The U.S. dollar has been the world's de facto reserve currency for almost 90 years.
But this financial dominance may be nearing its end.
In recent years, China's been floating the idea the yuan should take on the dollar's role as the world's reserve currency.
In fact, the Chinese have already negotiated numerous bilateral trade deals that completely bypass it.
And they've even called for efforts to "de-Americanize" the global economy.
Whatever happens, China's economic rise foreshadows increased influence.
It's a trend that not only has serious implications, but also great profit opportunities, if you know what to expect...
Here is a simple breakdown on what China's credit crunch is, and why it's important to your wallet:
Let's begin with some shocking numbers.
China is the world's 2nd largest economy.
The Chinese stock market fell as much as 1.7% on Wednesday, and it had already reached lows unseen since the 2009 global financial crisis.
Short-term inter-bank interest rates last week reached as high as 25%.
It is an understatement to say that investors around the globe are extremely nervous as to what this all means for China's growth.
These dismal numbers all stem from the Chinese credit crunch.
China's government-controlled central bank, the People's Bank of China (PBOC), has been pulling back on feeding the banks yuan to meet the demand for money in order to combat excessive lending that was causing concerns it might overheat the economy and lead to bad investments.
Issues like creating a real estate bubble.
Sound intimately familiar? It definitely should.
It's been the lament of everyone for years now: Cheap Chinese labor is killing the job market.
With lower wages and lax regulation, the giant sucking sound we heard was manufacturing jobs headed from Sheboygan to Shenzhen.
But now China's new found riches are starting to turn in on themselves in the form of much higher wages.
In fact, The Wall Street Journal has found that over the past decade - while no one was watching - manufacturing wages in China have gone up - conservatively - by 20% annually.
And as those workers pocket ever-fatter paychecks, they're demanding more in the way of decent working conditions and better hours. And that costs money.
It's not that much different than what happened in the United States in the early 20th century. It's just that China is doing it much faster.
This is like saying the U.S. markets were in for a hard landing in March of 2009 after they had fallen more than 50%. Folks who bit into this argument and bailed not only sold out at the worst possible moment, but then added agony to injury by sitting on the sidelines as the markets tore 95.68% higher over the next two years.
People forget that the U.S. stock market - as measured by the Dow Jones Industrial Average using weekly data - fell more than 89% from 1929 to 1932, more than 52% from 1937 to 1942, and more recently experienced a decline of more than 53% from 2008 to 2009 - and that doesn't even account for four 40+% declines beginning in 1901, 1906, 1916, and 1973.
Each was a great buying opportunity, and following those meltdowns, our markets rose more than 371% from 1929 to 1932, more than 222% from 1949 to 1956, more than 128% from 1937 to 1942, and more than 95.68% in just over two years starting in March 2009 - one of the fastest "melt-ups" in market history.
People forget that world markets dropped 40%-80% in 1987. And as legendary investor Jim Rogers noted earlier this month, that was not the end of the secular bull market in stocks, either.
People forget that our nation endured two world wars, a depression, multiple recessions, presidential assassinations, the near complete failure of our food belt, not to mention the deadliest terrorist attacks the world has ever seen, and more.
And guess what? It's still been the best place to invest for the last 100 years.
So what if China backs off or slows down?
The Asian currency markets blew up in 1997. Mexico's market fabulously went up in smoke during the great tequila crisis of 1994. And Argentina failed to the tune of a 76.9% crash starting in 1997 only to give way to a 1,724.56% rally from 2001 to 2011.
Gold rose by more than 600% in the 1970s, then fell by 50%, which terrified investors at the time. It subsequently rose by more than 850%, something else Mr. Rogers noted in recent interviews, as have I.
China is undoubtedly going to have several hard landings in our lifetime. Despite the fact that China is thousands of years old, modern China is a mere 40 years old, if you consider its opening following the historic Nixon-Kissinger visit in 1972.
And today's China has 1.3 billion people -- all of whom want to live the way you do.
It's growing by an average of 9% a year or more and has done so every year for the last 41 years straight. We've just poured an estimated $7.7 trillion into our economy and the best we can do is 2.5%. The European Union (EU) is on track for 0.2% growth in 2012 after trillions in euro backing there.
Indeed, California, Florida, New York, and even Hawaii have seen a marked up-tick in home sales to Chinese buyers who are exporting their country's real estate boom to the United States, according to Bloomberg News.
Increased regulation at home and education and investment opportunities are chief among the reasons real estate in the United States - as well as the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada - has piqued Chinese interest.
According to a survey by the National Association of Realtors, Chinese buyers accounted for 9% of foreign home purchases in the 12 months ended in March of both 2010 and 2011. That's up from 5% in 2009.
"The purchase restrictions in China drove them overseas, while they look for investments to counter the inflation," Mo Tianquan, founder and chairman of Beijing-based SouFun Holdings Ltd. - a company that runs China's biggest real estate Website and organizes buying excursions abroad - told Bloomberg. "Some of them will buy homes considering better education opportunities for their kids, while others look for immigration options."
Take Cupertino, Calif., for example. Sales of existing single-family homes in Cupertino rose 21% in the first quarter from a year earlier, largely due to an influx of Chinese shoppers who are making huge cash purchases.
"We're seeing a huge number of all-cash transactions, and most of those are from mainland China," Nina Yamaguchi, managing broker at Coldwell Banker's residential office in Cupertino, told Bloomberg. "The thing that draws the Asians here is the schools are so highly touted. Cupertino is certainly not beautiful. It doesn't have wonderful architecture."
China posted yet another quarter of stellar economic growth in the first quarter of 2011, with its gross domestic product (GDP) growing 9.7%. However, analysts are worried about some of the side effects that have accompanied that growth- namely soaring inflation and the emergence of speculative bubbles.
Inflation in China hit a 32-month high in March, and the country's real estate market is beyond scorching.
Policymakers in Beijing insist they have the situation under control, and they've been trying to rein in liquidity and curb speculation to prove it. That's why China's economy, accustomed to double-digit growth, is only expected to grow 8% to 9% this year.