A politically correct Harvard paper “Asiaphoria Meet Regression to the Mean” by the politically correct authors Lant Pritchett and Larry Summers tells us, or seemingly tells us, that China’s rapid growth is unlikely to last. They examine fifty or so periods of rapid growth, and, almost always, sad to say, there is regression to the mean. In the long run, the periods of rapid growth make little difference.
These are, unlike your usual Harvard intellectual, genuinely smart people, and, for smart Harvard people, surprisingly truthful. And, if you take a powerful microscope, read between the lines, read what is unwritten, you will read the truth. If you listen to what they are not saying, you will hear the truth.
There are a near infinite variety of ways to have bad or negative economic growth. There is one way to have good economic growth, and if your country is Cathedral Compliant, it is not allowed to do things that one way.
Instead of just noticing that periods of rapid economic growth tend to come to a sad end, Lant and Larry took a look at these sad ends.
nearly every country that experienced a large democratic transition after a period of above-average growth (more than the cross-country average of 2 per cent) experienced a sharp deceleration in growth in the 10 years following the democratizing transition.
In other words, the reason that periods of rapid economic growth come to a sad end is that the Cathedral comes after you. It is not regression to the mean, but Cathedral reconquest.
Lant and Larry notice that China is anomalous, different from all their other examples, in that unlike all their other examples, with the partial exception of Singapore, large and long economic growth has not resulted in “Democracy” – their prediction that China will not continue to grow is not a prediction that some mystery factor like “exhaustion of the low hanging fruit” will end China’s growth. It is in fact a highly pious prediction that the Cathedral will soon enjoy its inevitable victory, due, no doubt, to the forces of history.
When making highly pious predictions, Lant and Larry are less reliable than usual.