China Inflation And Wage Protests Spread, Turn Violent

Thursday, April 21, 2011
By Paul Martin

by Tyler Durden
ZeroHedge.com
04/21/2011

Yesterday we reported news that has so far received almost no media exposure, namely that thousands of striking truck drivers had poured into Shanghai’s Waigaoqiao zone, one of the city’s busiest container ports, protesting over “rising fuel prices and low wages.” Today, via Reuters, we learn that this situation has escalated materially, and progressed into violence: “A two-day strike over rising fuel prices turned violent in Shanghai on Thursday as thousands of truck drivers clashed with police, drivers said, in the latest example of simmering discontent over inflation. About 2,000 truck drivers battled baton-wielding police at an intersection near Waigaoqiao port, Shanghai’s biggest, two drivers who were at the protest told Reuters. The drivers, who blocked roads with their trucks, had stopped work on Wednesday demanding the government do something about rising fuel costs, workers said.” And while we have violent uprisings over austerity in Europe, now we have violent strikes over inflation in China? The question thus now is just how much longer will China continue to take massively ineffective steps such as RRR and rate hikes, both of which have been a tremendous failure in reining in inflation, instead of picking the nuclear option of revaluing the currency. And while many believe China may announce something along those lines over the weekend, Win Thin, global head of emerging market strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman, is not so sure and put the odds of a yuan revaluation at 25%. “With regards to currency policy, we are putting forth the following three possibilities along with odds: 1) keep current pace of appreciation (10%), 2) do one off revaluation (25%), and 3) speed up pace of appreciation (65%).” Either way, with more people joining the populist movement against inflation, China is now between a rock and a hard place: will it continue happily importing Bernanke’s inflation exports or finally retaliate. Unfortunately for its economy, the appropriately called “nuclear option” of revaluation, will leave it export economy flailing. So the real question: is China ready to migrate from an export-led to a consumer-led model. Alas, the answer is a resounding no.

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