China, Covid, and economic slowdowns

China’s economy faces a number of challenges — three in particular:

  1. the spread of the covid19 pandemic
  2. the country’s ambitious zero-covid approach (which has resulted in severe lockdowns)
  3. and a grave real estate crisis arising out of the crackdown on the property market

The slow down of China’s economy was acknowledged by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. In a meeting he is reported to have said: “It is necessary … to further cut taxes and [administrative] fees to ensure a stable economic start in the first quarter and stabilize the macro economy.”

During a meeting in December 2021, Chinese leadership flagged ‘stability’ as its key aim for 2022. This was in stark contrast to targets for 2021, which was focused on ‘the disorderly expansion of capital’ driven by President Xi Jinping’s objective of reducing inequalities in Chinese society.

China’s zero-covid strategy is impacting its economic links with the rest of the world as international air travel is restricted, and even the stringent lockdowns applied in the country are likely to take their toll on global supply chains. A lockdown in Xian, for instance, has already prompted Samsung Electronics and Micron Technology, two of the world’s largest memory chip makers, to red flag the possibility of their chip manufacturing bases in the area being hit.

As a result of its zero-covid strategy, and its aim of controlling the spread of the pandemic in Xian, and also before the Beijing winter Olympics next month, China has further tightened regulations for the import of products from neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia. Trucks with agricultural products from Vietnam and Myanmar have been stranded for weeks (some for well over a month), and as a result products have been rotting (especially fruits like mangoes and jackfruit) and exporters in both countries have had to face losses (exports of non-agricultural products, such as rubber and minerals, from Laos to China, have also suffered). Apart from stringent checks, exporters of commodities are supposed to carry Chinese trucks across the border – the unloading of goods and transfer is a time consuming process and this leads to further delays.

It is not just mainland China but also the important financial hub of Hong Kong that has been following a zero-covid policy, which has impacted its economy – especially the tourist sector. The fact that Hong Kong will be opening to China before it opens to the rest of the world has also not sent out a positive message to international businesses.

China faces the onerous responsibility of not just keeping covid19 under check, but also preventing a further slow down in its economy. Economic challenges and the zero-covid approach will lead not only to domestic problems, but also impact its economic linkages with the rest of the world, especially neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia (China is an important market for agricultural products of Vietnam and Myanmar). The slow down in China’s economy and the remarks by Li Keqiang with regard to the same also highlight the limitations of Xi Jinping’s economic vision and the fact that there is a growing concern with regard to the country’s possible economic challenges over the next few months.


  1. What have we seen in a year of lockdown? Philip Ball, homunculus
  2. The myth of the impartial juror Sonali Chakravarti, Boston Review
  3. June in Arkansas Chloe Honum, Bat City Review
  4. Go Bruins!


  1. Driving alone, listening to talk radio Addison del Mastro, New Urbs
  2. My history of manual labor Tyler Cowen, MR
  3. My first year in the Covid lockdown Maria Farrell, Crooked Timber
  4. Biden finally called up Netanyahu Michael Koplow, Ottomans & Zionists
  5. The Strastnoy of Ayn Rand Roderick T. Long, Policy of Truth
  6. Brand India Ravinder Kaur, Aeon


  1. Guantánamo Bay’s unhappy birthday Benjamin Farley, War on the Rocks
  2. The boy who has everything Jacques Delacroix, NOL
  3. Wading through the Mumbai Blues Taran Khan, Newlines
  4. How to be a hermit Mary Wellesley, Spectator


  1. The language of taxation Frances Woolley, Worthwhile Canadian Initiative
  2. On feudal exploitation Chris Dillow, Stumbling & Mumbling
  3. A failed experiment John Tierney, City Journal
  4. Edward Van Halen (1955-2020) RIP Irfan Khawaja, Policy of Truth


  1. A very Swedish sort of failure Gideon Rachman, Financial Times
  2. Sraffa was changing the nature of the inquiry” Ajit Sinha, INET
  3. The global cost of lockdown Bhattacharya & Packalen, Spectator
  4. How ’bout some art history of modern Japan? Audrey Clark, S-USIH


  1. The separate worlds of Covid-19 Leah Windsor, Duck of Minerva
  2. Whose freedom? Anti-lockdown protests Dahlia Lithwick, Slate
  3. The glory—and risk—of cities Joel Kotkin, City Journal
  4. Still don’t believe in aliens? Robin Hanson, Overcoming Bias


  1. When do emergency measures turn into dangerous government overreach? Jonathan Wolff, Times Literary Supplement
  2. A philosophy of fear – and a society of scolds Daniel McCarthy, Modern Age
  3. The perils of lockdown living Sayed Kashua, New York Review of Books
  4. It’s time to take UFOs seriously Alexander Wendt (interview), Vox


  1. Parks and privilege in New Jersey (coronavirus) Irfan Khawaja, Policy of Truth
  2. Freedom, lockdown, and COVID-19 Chris Bertram, Crooked Timber
  3. Prudence and pandemics Mark Helprin, Claremont Review of Books
  4. The long shadow of cultural anthropology Jennifer Wilson, the Nation


  1. Catholicism, America, and the fascist temptation James Patterson, Law & Liberty
  2. The greatest financial bailout of all time is underway John Cochrane, Grumpy Economist
  3. Whither the precautionary principle Thomas L. Knapp, The Garrison Center
  4. Steel-manning lockdown socialism Arnold Kling, askblog
  5. What will the political outcome of coronavirus be? Niall Ferguson, Spectator

Grocery shopping in Texas

This past weekend I finally got to go to the grocery store and, like Rick, I was hoping to catch a glimpse of what my neighbors valued.

All of the shelves were fully stocked, except for the toilet paper aisle. Diaper wipes are being limited, too. The grocery store I shop at, H-E-B, actually opens the boxes of diaper wipes and sells the packs in singles. (A box will usually have 6 to 8 packs in it.) I got the maximum number of single packs allowed (2), just in case.

For diapers and wipes, we have a pre-paid automated thing with Amazon, and it has worked smoothly, but we’ve also tried to stock up just in case.

I tend to buy in bulk, so we still don’t need any toilet paper. The last time I bought butt paper was in January, and we’re still pretty stocked. But being a bulk buyer has made me anxious in the grocery store. I don’t like it when some of the stuff I always buy in bulk is being limited because some people want to hoard.

The pasta sauce and pancake mix is mostly gone, too. Texas has the best food and the best amateur cooks in the republic, but when you’ve got 4 or 5 or 6 people crammed into the house all day, ain’t nobody wanna cook.

The surgical masks don’t bother me. I lived in west LA for years (Go Bruins!) and people shopped in those masks all the time. The gloves don’t bother me. The employees are friendly, as usual, but I would have quit. I know some of them feel the same way.