While Marc Faber is adamant that “there’s lots of funny things that are happening in China. And when the whole thing unwinds it will be a disaster,” it is his comments with regard Ukraine (and Russia) that are worth paying significant new attention to. As The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report editor notes in this brief Bloomberg TV interview, if you put yourself in Putin’s shoes “he did the right thing from his perspective,” given Crimea’s strategic importance. However, as Faber concludes, “Crimea moving to Russia gives essentially a signal to China that one day they can also move and seize some territory that they perceive belongs to them.”
Faber On Russia, Ukraine and its signaling to China…
Mr. Putin did the right thing from his perspective. We have to look – put ourselves into his shoes. He did absolutely the right thing at the right time.
…By that I mean that there was interference by foreign powers in Ukrainian politics that were unfavorably from the perspective of Russia.
…The Crimea is strategically most important for Russia. It has practically no meaning strategically to the United States or to Europe. But for Russia it’s very important. I don’t think that Russia will move further into Ukraine unless there is serious provocation. But I doubt it will happen. But I think the wider implication is that we have now border lines. In other words, the US would intervene if a foreign power would establish bases in Haiti and in Cuba and so forth and so on, and the Chinese will react if foreign powers threaten Chinese access to resources.
This is very important because the occupation or say the referendum (ph) in Crimea and Crimea moving to Russia gives essentially a signal to China that one day they can also move and seize some territory that they perceive that belongs to them.
Faber confirms his perspective on China…
…we had a colossal credit bubble in China and that this credit bubble is now being gradually deflated and will bring about problems in the real estate market and among some major players in the commodity markets as well. So overall, if I look at export figures from China, and they are very closely correlated to overall economic growth, then there is a huge discrepancy between what China reports and what China’s trading partners are reporting.
So if you look at the figures of China, exports are still growing. If you look at the trade figures China exports to Taiwan, so China records exports of so and so much. The Taiwan report imports from China at a much lower level. So which figures are more reliable? I think the figures of the trading partners of China are more reliable. And they would suggest that growth has slown down considerably.
Governments will always publish the statistics that they wish to show irrespective whether that is in China or in other countries. Governments control basically the statistical offices, so they can show whatever they want. As Stalin said, it’s not important who votes but who counts the votes. And the government counts the statistics.
…the fact is simply that Chinese stocks have been just about the worst performing stocks since 2006. Now analysts will dismiss that and say everything is prefect in China, but the stock market does not seem to believe everything that the government is saying about the economy. And clearly there are strength signs in the Chinese economy. In particular, as I said, we have this huge explosion of debt. Debt as a percent of GDP has increased in the last five years by more than 50 percent. Total debt is now over 215 percent of GDP, and a lot of it is trade finance that is being rolled over.
In addition to that, there are lots of funny deals. A friend of mine who analyzes China very carefully, Simon Hunt (ph), he pointed out that trade finance between one state-owned enterprise and a private company has amounted to over $5 trillion by continuing to roll over the same collateral several times. There’s lots of funny things that are happening in China. And when the whole thing unwinds it will be a disaster.
I think that investors are not sufficiently aware that the Chinese economy is far more important for other emerging economies than the United States because China is a large importer of resources. In other words, iron ore, copper, zinc (inaudible). And at the same time, they are a huge exporter to commodity producers of their own manufactured goods, as well as Korean exports. The commodity producers are much larger than Korean exports to the US or to the U (ph).
So if the Chinese economy slows down, commodity prices – industrial commodity prices are likely to remain under pressure. They already come down a lot. They remain under pressure and the resource producers have less money. In other words, the Brazilian goes into recession. The Middle East does not grow as much as before. Central Asia, Africa and so forth all contract, and then they buy less from China and you have a vicious cycle on the downside.