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Requiem for a Technocrat | Economic Browser

from New York TimesRegarding the death of former Prime Minister Li Keqiang:

…gentlemen. Li Keqiang, who holds degrees in law and economics, is the epitome of the pragmatic technocrats who led the country out of poverty in the 1990s and 2000s. [Online commentators] At his first press conference after taking office as prime minister in 2013, he made his opening remarks.

“We will be loyal to the Constitution, loyal to the people, and take the people’s will as the direction of our governance,” Li Keqiang said.

Li represents the power of China’s economic opening and freedom from command and control.In my view, it is this move away from economic liberalization and back to regulationism that has partly led to a rise in economic and economic policy uncertainty and thus to slower growth than would otherwise have been the case (see e.g. Frankl’s post to further explain other factors). Here’s a picture of China’s recent uncertainty measures.

figure 1: EPU-China is based on mainland Chinese newspapers (blue, left scale), EPU-China is based on SCMP (tan, left scale), WUI-China (green, right scale). The light orange shading represents Xi Jinping; the gray shading represents the peak to trough dates of the recession as defined by ECRI. source: policyuncertainty.comand worlduncertaintyindex.comand ECRI.

The picture below is from economist In March, the Li Keqiang Index was released – an examination of possible intentional or unintentional measurement errors in tracking the Chinese economy.

source: The Economist, March 9, 2023.

As Li Keqiang himself pointed out in 2015, the index was increasingly unrepresentative of a services-led economy, proposing a “new Li Keqiang Index” based on employment stability, household income growth and falling energy consumption. [1].Discussion of other competing agents big data china.

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