As Covid-19 swept across China early last year, it looked as if its three-decade-old economic miracle was showing signs of slowing down. The country has faced criticisms for both its seemingly unsustainable growth model and the way it handled the pandemic in the earlier months. Many observers were thus pessimistic about the continuation of its exponential growth. 

“There was this thread of doom running through the Western analysis of the Chinese economy,” says Tom Orlik, chief economist at Bloomberg in an Aberdeen Standard Investments podcast. 

Much of this pessimism towards China stems from the unprecedented speed with which it has accumulated debt. From 150% of GDP in 2008, China’s debt in 2015 had bloated to 250% of GDP — countries less encumbered have in fact run into financial crises. 

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