Business, Economics and Jobs

Macro chatter: China's slowdown and the cost of aging


Shoppers buy Chinese made clothing at a discount stall in Beijing on March 22, 2012.


Mark Ralston

Need to know:
China won't release its first quarter GDP report until tonight, but the World Bank has a preview of what 2012 might look like for the economic giant.

The World Bank is betting the Chinese economy will grow 8.2 percent this year. That's worse than it has done in the past 13 years but way better than the US and Europe are doing.

Meanwhile, China may be on the verge of making it easier for Chinese corporations to borrow yuan abroad for investments back home, the Wall Street Journal reported.

That could bring the yuan one step closer to becoming a global currency and challenge the dominance of the US dollar.

Want to know:
still isn’t a $600 billion company, but it is about to be worth more than the nearly 500 public companies in Spain, Portugal and Greece combined, Bloomberg said.

Back in November 2007, those companies were worth 11 times as much as Apple. They’ve since lost $1 trillion and Apple has launched the iPad.

Apple shouldn’t celebrate too much, though. Apple is being sued by the US Department of Justice for colluding with publishers on e-book pricing.

Dull but important:
The kind of subprime lending that helped spark the financial crisis is making a comeback in the US.

Credit card and auto lenders are making more loans to consumers with bad credit, The New York Times said. Still, banks haven’t yet opened their spigots to subprime mortgage borrowers, Time said

Banks say they've learned their lesson, but they could just be too busy sending out new credit cards.

Just Because:
Aging is more expensive than we thought. Advanced economies are underestimating how long their citizens might live and may eventually have to pay for their mistakes.

The International Monetary Fund said the world’s advanced economies are shortchanging their citizens by an average of three years. Pension funds and government programs are ill prepared to deal with beneficiaries’ longer life spans, and countries bottom lines could suffer as a result. 

The cost of caring for aging populations already is straining government budgets, particularly in Europe, and costs only expected to escalate in the decades to come.

Strange but true:
As long as you’re not a lumberjack your job is better than somebody’s. If you are a lumberjack, we’re sorry.

Lumberjack is the worst job of 2012, according to Dairy farming is the second worst job of 2012. Both fields offer low salaries and limited job opportunities, which is probably okay if you’re not into swinging axes or milking cows.

The best job of 2012: computer programmer.