In the movie I.O.U.S.A., Warren Buffett affectionately labeled China “Thriftsville” in his parable about the dangers of the United States over-consuming and relying on foreign production and lending. The movie also introduced us to a young Chinese couple, who met each other while working in a light bulb factory. This couple boasts that "saving money is a Chinese tradition," and they save half of the $20-a-day they earn.
The problem is, in an economic downturn, increased saving can harm short-term economic activity. So, from the front page of the print edition of today’s Washington Post, we learn that China is apparently now pursuing more than half a trillion dollars in fiscal stimulus (emphasis added):
China on Sunday night announced an aggressive $586 billion economic stimulus package, the largest in the country’s history, at a time when it is struggling with increasing social unrest due to factory closings and rising unemployment.
In a wide-ranging plan that economists are comparing to the New Deal, the government said it would ease credit restrictions, expand social welfare services and launch an...