Jim Rodgers, legendary commodity investor, on India and China GDP Growth

Question: What kind of growth do you see in China?

Jim Rodgers Answer thestreet.com – I have no idea. I know that it’s booming. I know that every time I go to China, and I’ve being going to China for 26 years — the first time I went it was 1984 — and I assure you China is growing very rapidly and doing a lot of things right. Whether it’s 8% or 12%, I mean you look at the Indians. Who can believe the Indian [growth] number; certainly not me.

I’ve been going to India for many years too and I know they’re not growing as fast as China but they claim to be. The Indians wait for the Chinese to announce their growth numbers and then they announce theirs. They want to make sure they are in the same league. But all of these numbers are made up; you must understand that by now.

The alternative China bearish case is laid out here (summarizing Jim Chanos case on China real estate)

* In 2009, Chanos found out that China was embarking on 30 billion square feet of new construction (half was office space)
* construction is 60% of Chinese GDP
* there are empty cities

Counter argument- China is urbanizing at 20-30 million people per year. China can increase urbanization with a shift to the Hukou (inside China passport) system. Chengdu plans to integrate its urban and rural household registration systems in order to eliminate the differences and inequality generated by these two separate ID classes

By Jan 2010, ten cities had canceled the temporary residence system

The Chengdu effort is a pilot program for the abolishment of the Hukou system

China could fill any over construction in less than a year with modifications to the Hukou rules.

Question for Jim Rodgers – So when you said in 2007 that any smart investor should move to Asia, do you still feel that way?

Yes, I certainly feel that way. In my view the 21st century will be the century of Asia just as the 20th century was the century of the U.S

I think that the 21st century will be the century of China. I didn’t move to China. I moved to Singapore for a variety of reasons namely because there’s so much pollution in China, which by the way is going to be a great opportunity for somebody. The Chinese are spending huge amounts of money trying to clean up the pollution. But I didn’t want to breathe all that bad air … But, yes, I think there will continue to be fabulous opportunities in Asia.

Question – Now we’ve heard recently the WikiLeaks claims that China is inflating its GDP and the country’s growth isn’t real. Do you think that’s true?

I’m sure they are. We are too, everybody is. I mean America says there’s no inflation. You must shop, you know there is inflation. I mean do you believe any government numbers from any government from anywhere in the world? If you do, you are going to go to the poorhouse very quickly. Most government numbers are phony.

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