MacroPolo, an initiative of the in-house think tank of the Paulson Institute at the University of Chicago, is brought to you by a dedicated team of experienced observers and seasoned analysts. Our aim is to decode China’s economic arrival for you—the reader—across multiple dimensions.
A decade ago, the Chinese economy was said to be an unstoppable “juggernaut.” Today, it is more often said to be “stagnating” or, in some accounts, on the verge of falling off a cliff.
But whichever narrative one prefers, the undeniable reality is this: China’s economy has arrived. The country now has the world’s second-largest economy, is its largest trader, its biggest manufacturer, its largest oil importer, its leading carbon emitter, and sits on trillions of dollars of foreign exchange reserves that it is increasingly investing beyond its borders. If the Chinese economy sneezes, at least some part of the global economy is sure to catch a cold.
But China also confronts strong headwinds—and its leaders are well aware that they will need to pull off a fundamental economic restructuring.
Ultimately, whether their attempts at reform succeed will depend as much on politics and social dynamics as on macroeconomic policies and intentions. Few events will be as defining—or disruptive—as how the Chinese economy performs and evolves over the next decade.
That is why anyone with a stake in where the global economy is headed needs to grapple with the complexity of China’s evolution. Yet elucidating a nuanced and balanced portrait of China’s economy, not platitudes or punditry, is becoming much more difficult.
And that is why we have created MacroPolo.
The animating idea behind our new digital platform is to create a hub for incisive, relevant, and accessible research on China’s political economy. We also examine the multifaceted economic linkages between the world’s two largest economies, the United States and China, with a particular emphasis on cross-border investment.
The research and interactive products on MacroPolo reflect our broad interest in China’s political economy. But we have deliberately narrowed the scope of the platform to focus on areas that are not systematically covered elsewhere yet, in our view, merit greater prominence and deeper analysis. MacroPolo includes, among its many features, macroeconomic analysis and detailed assessments of specific aspects of China’s economic reform agenda, including urbanization, labor market reform, developments with state-owned enterprises, fiscal and tax policies, and trends in China’s energy sector. As with all products of our think tank, we aim to deliver insights useful to audiences as diverse as economic policymakers, businesses, market participants, and both generalists and specialists. The venture is a nonprofit, but our in-house experts are also available to provide advisory services in some areas.
Take a quick tour around MacroPolo and you’ll discover not just our unique suite of existing think tank products, such as our Paulson Policy Memoranda and Investment Case Studies, but also new bespoke products, such as our ReformPedia and FDI Gateway, as well as our take on Chinese elite politics in The Committee and a deep dive into the financial risks now facing China in The Cleanup. Take on one of three distinct personas of a Chinese migrant and explore extensive urban residency data in On the Road. And check out the many ways beyond just trade that China’s economic impact is being felt across America in The China Footprint.
Another good place to start is with our blog, Two Fen (“two cents” in Chinese): it features insightful commentary and timely writing from our in-house experts. With Two Fen, we aim to parse signal from noise in debates about China’s political economy.
MacroPolo is sure to evolve over time. But this platform’s core purpose will always be firmly fixed on fostering a deeper understanding of China, just as the world grapples with this economic colossus’ impact and the many ways China’s evolution is already shaping our young century.