Much attention has been directed toward China’s high savings rate. Not only is the savings rate disproportionately high compared with virtually every other country, but it directly impacts China’s current account surplus and the U.S. consumer deficit. When national savings exceeds investment, the excess savings shows up in China’s current account surplus.
Given its far-reaching effects, both private sector analysts and policymakers have attempted to trace the causes of China’s high savings rate and to predict how long it will last. Some have attributed the savings primarily to Chinese corporations rather than households. Others point to a precautionary savings motive: Because Chinese people are worried about costs of health care, education and old-age pensions and are unsure about how much these costs might change over time, they respond by saving more. Other explanations point to habit formation or financial development.
But these explanations do not tell the whole story and possibly are not the most important part of the story…