Andy Xie isn’t known for tepid opinions.
The provocative Xie, who was a top economist at the World Bank and Morgan Stanley, found notoriety a decade ago when he left the Wall Street bank after a controversial internal report went public. Today, he is among the loudest voices warning of an inevitable implosion in China, the world’s second-largest economy.
Xie, now working independently and based in Shanghai, says the coming collapse won’t be like the Asian currency crisis of 1997 or the U.S. financial meltdown of 2008.
In a recent interview with MarketWatch, Xie said China’s trajectory instead resembles the one that led to the Great Depression, when the expansion of credit, loose monetary policy and a widespread belief that asset prices would never fall contributed to rampant speculation that ended with a crippling market crash.
China in 2016 looks much the same, according to Xie, with half of the country’s debt propping up real-estate prices and heavy leverage in the stock market — indicating that conditions are ripe for a correction.
“The government is allowing speculation by providing cheap financing,” Xie told MarketWatch. China “is riding a tiger and is terrified of a crash. So it keeps pumping cash into the economy. It is difficult to see how China can avoid a crisis.”
A longtime critic of Chinese economic growth
Xie’s viewpoints have at times attracted unwelcome attention. In 2006, when he was a star Asia economist at Morgan Stanley, a leaked email to colleagues in which he said money laundering was bolstering growth in Singapore led to his abrupt departure from the bank.
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