Could China, the driver of global inflation in commodities such as crude oil and iron ore, be looking at domestic deflation in 2006?
Deflation effectively took Japan out of the global economy for more than a decade, slowing global growth and increasing global economic volatility. Serious deflation in China has the potential to be a lot more dangerous. At its least damaging, it would flood the world's markets with even cheaper Chinese goods. At the worst it could stall the Chinese economy, a major driver of global growth, and even send the country into one of its periods of instability.
All that from a change in prices? You betcha.
A Chinese economic think tank at the country's top economic agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, raised the red flag on deflation on Jan. 12. Since then, Chinese officials have repeatedly gone out of their way to pooh-pooh the danger. So much effort spent on denial, of course, means that it's a problem that the communist regime takes seriously.