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From China to Europe and beyond it is likely to be a nerve-racking year As Mark Twain never said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you think you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Over the course of this year and next, the biggest economic risks will emerge in those areas where investors think recent patterns are unlikely to change. They will include a growth recession in China, a rise in global long-term real interest rates and a crescendo of populist economic policies that undermine the credibility of central bank independence, resulting in higher interest rates on “safe” advanced-country government bonds. A significant Chinese slowdown may already be unfolding. The US president Donald Trump’s trade war has shaken confidence but this is only a downward shove to an economy that was already slowing as it makes the transition from export- and investment-led growth to more sustainable domestic consumption-led growth. How much the Chinese economy will slow is an open question; but, given the inherent contradiction between an ever-more centralised Party-led political system and the need for a more decentralised consumer-led economic system, long-term growth could fall quite dramatically. Continue reading...