China’s growth story has been remarkable. The country’s economy grew at a staggering 10% annualized pace for 20 years as its government conducted a massive infrastructure building campaign. Global companies built manufacturing operations in China to take advantage of a cheap, educated workforce. More than 600 million people were pulled out of poverty, creating a powerful middle class consumer block that influenced global commodities demand and bought all types of goods and services with their newfound wealth.
China today is still a force to be reckoned with, but recent economic data reveal it isn’t the roaring dragon it once was. Granted, at an estimated 7.7% GDP growth rate for 2014, it outpaces the growth rate of most developed and emerging markets, and it also remains one of the world’s largest economies. But wages have started to rise, making manufacturing more expensive compared with other emerging and developed countries. And there are concerns about the financial health of its banks and a real estate market that looks overheated. In an era of low yields, it’s no wonder investors are looking around the globe and asking: “Where’s the next China?”
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