Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Superior Gold Group - What should Americans see in China's rise to Number Two?

This week, the latest GDP figures made official something that many have long assumed to be true - China is now the world's second largest economy, eclipsing Japan, which grew at anemic 0.4 percent in the second quarter.

According to a Japanese official, the island country's economic output in the second quarter was $1,228 billion, compared to $1,337 billion for China.

China is expanding so rapidly, in fact, that the government is taking dramatic measures to cut back on some of the growth, fearing that it will lead to an overheated economy. There are signs that a real estate bubble of possibly massive proportions has already formed, and its bursting could have global repercussions.

So is China hot on the tail of the United States? Already this summer, China moved past the U.S. in a rather more dubious achievement: it became the world's largest consumer of energy, mostly in the form of dirty coal-fired power plants.

In many ways, China's rise was inevitable. There are, after all, more than 1.3 billion human beings in the nation of China - Japan has just 125 million, the United States a bit over 300 million. Japan's per-capita GDP is still more than times higher than China's.

There was never much doubt, among serious economists, that China would reach this point. The question is what it means for the U.S.

In fact, China may find that ascending closer to the top of the podium brings new responsibilities. Nations around the world criticize China for its political, economic and monetary policies designed to promote an export-heavy economy, crowding out other manufacturing nations. Demand is limited, and not every nation can be an exporting power; to attempt to become one invites a damaging return to old-school mercantilism.

China is also developing some of the problems of big nations; its domestic industries are being undercut by cheaper competition in Vietnam, Indonesia and Bangladesh; a class of newly wealthy citizens are speculating in property and driving up prices; and some kind of subprime loan crisis is brewing in the nation's banks.

In response, there's growing demand in China - the world's largest producer of gold - for more and better ways to invest in physical gold. Culturally, many Chinese investors turn to precious metal assets like dealer gold and silver to protect their wealth.

With the People's Bank of China extending the right to import and export bullion to more banks, and a new moneyed class looking to preserve their wealth, China may be the site of the next bull market in gold - and precious metals investors the world over stand to benefit.