Dr. Derek M. Scissors is Chief Economist of China Beige Book International.
Dr. Scissors oversees the firm’s data analytics operations as well as China Beige Book’s proprietary database, which is now the largest private database in the world on the Chinese economy.
One of the world’s leading experts on China’s trade and investment flows, Dr. Scissors runs the China Global Investment Tracker, the only comprehensive, publicly available data set covering China’s global investment and construction activity, and is the author of a series of papers starting in late 2008 that predicted a substantial slowdown in China’s economic growth due to lack of market-based reform. He also serves concurrently as a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and an adjunct professor at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Before joining China Beige Book International and AEI, Dr. Scissors was a senior research fellow in the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation. He has worked previously for London-based Intelligence Research Ltd., taught economics at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, and worked at the U.S. Department of Defense.
Dr. Scissors has a Ph.D. in international political economy from Stanford University, an M.A. in Economics from the University of Chicago, and a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Michigan.
What is not natural is China’s bad track record on debt: according to the Bank of International Settlements, every measure of debt — consumer, government and corporate — has risen as a share of GDP for the past decade. China went from a low-leverage country in 2007 to having a worse debt position than the US in 2017, despite the fact that the US itself has borrowed heavily.
But he can’t keep saying China is ripping us off and he’s going to stop it unless the US targets the biggest imports. The trade deficit with China is bigger than with the next eight countries combined. NAFTA? The trade deficit in cell phones and computers alone with China is bigger than the trade deficits for all goods with Mexico and Canada combined.
The Chinese economy is strange in many ways. Not only is it a hybrid between private capital and state control, but very few people directly invest in the mainland — and yet everybody is interested in how the second largest economy in the world is going to develop. That’s because Chinese demand determines the prices of world commodities, and the operations of multinational companies in China impact earnings. When the yuan falls, markets across the world get jittery. China watchers accept the fact that official Chinese data is severely flawed, and often simply fabricated, yet they still use it to analyze the Chinese economy and markets because there are few alternatives. One alternative, however, is the China Beige Book International (CBB), a research service that interviews thousands of companies and hundreds of bankers on the ground in China each quarter. They collect data and perform in-depth interviews with Chinese executives.