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January 15 2014

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) appears to have taken the words of American industrialist Henry Ford to heart. Ford said, “There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible.”  

Last week, we learned from CNBC China’s annual trade was more than $4 trillion in 2013. That pushed the PRC ahead of the United States and gave it standing as the world’s biggest trader. According to The New York Times, China’s annual trade surplus, in U.S. dollar terms, was the largest since 2008 and 12.8 percent ahead of 2012’s surplus. In other words, China exported more than it imported.

It’s interesting to note imports to China increased significantly. In fact, imports rose more than exports which reflects strong domestic demand, according to an expert quoted by CNBC. That demand may have been driven by rising wages and a growing middle class. The New York Timeswrote:

“Export gains… suggest that despite years of predictions of trouble for China’s export juggernaut, it has not yet been derailed by fast-rising costs for blue-collar labor, by an appreciating Chinese currency, or by foreign investment shifts toward other, lower-wage Asian countries… Blue-collar pay has soared between fivefold and ninefold in dollar terms in the last decade, wrecking China’s reputation as a low-wage place for export-oriented manufacturing…A decade ago [a company] paid about $75 a month for entry-level industrial workers and provided virtually no benefits. Now, [a company] pays $570 a month plus $100 a month in government-mandated benefits.”

The Economist forecast China’s economy will overtake the United States’ in 2019 if economic growth averages 7.75 percent a year in China and 2.5 percent in America and inflation averages 4 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively, between 2010 and 2020. In late 2013, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development forecast growth in China would accelerate to about 8.2 percent with 2.4 percent inflation during 2014, according to Reuters. Growth in the United States is estimated to be 2.8 to 3.2 percent with inflation of 1.4 to 1.6 percent for the year, according to the Federal Reserve.

  • Data as of 1/10/141- WeekY-T-D1-Year3-Year5-Year10-Year
  • Standard & Poor’s 500 (Domestic Stocks)0.6%-0.00325.2%0.13216.2%5.0%
  • 10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)2.9N/A1.93.32.34.1
  • Gold (per ounce) 0.83.6-25.7-3.18.511.3
  • DJ-UBS Commodity Index-1-1.7-10.7-8.01.8-1.4
  • DJ Equity All REIT TR Index1.6 2.2 2.310.621.18.8

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Bart A Zandbergen, CFP® is a Registered Investment Advisor with Optivest, Inc and a Registered Representative with Gramercy Securities, Inc. Investment advisory services are offered by Optivest, Inc. under SEC Registration and securities are offered through Gramercy Securities, Inc., member FINRA & SIPC, 3949 Old Post Road, Charlestown, RI, 02813, 800-333-7450.

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