When making a cake for a great celebration, the baker uses the same ingredients as when baking a small 10” diameter cake, he just uses a lot more. When the world first saw China stirring up batter, they thought somehow this poor country surely was beginning to make a little 10 “ diameter cake. Now that they see the size of China’s great celebratory cake, some view it as so great that it could feed all of their cake eaters back home five times over. Surely this cake must be too big and therefore China’s baker must be on the verge of closing shop for having so foolishly made such a big cake. For those that still think China’s cake is too big, they just haven’t yet grasped the size of her guest invitation list.
When China began implementing her modernization plans in 1978, she hadn’t planned a 10” diameter cake. She planned a cake for the size of China. And it wasn’t one of those cheap, store bought cakes that we would have expected her to bake given her finances in 1978. It was one fit for a triumphant party celebrating the Empire’s return. In fact, the cake would be so big and would use so many ingredients that parties back home would have to shrink their party plans. The world’s storehouse would not have enough ingredients to throw elaborate parties for both China’s guests and the world’s.
No matter, if there was one thing China learned over 5,000 years, it was how to plan a celebration. China planned her strategy to ensure that on the day of the big celebration, she would have enough ingredients. This certainly meant she would have to manage party conflicts with those back here at home at some point. However, if parties back home didn’t have cake factories to make their cakes, they wouldn’t be able to compete at the appointed hour of China’s celebration, and if they didn’t have cake factories they surely wouldn’t be competing for ingredients at the appointed hour. China would implement her plan to ensure her guests would have their cake. But, she needed to implement first things first.
Reviewing her strengths, China noted she had plenty of baker’s assistants. They simply needed to be trained. She would definitely need more factory space to make the cake and more roads to get the supplies to the factory. And because she didn’t have all needed ingredients in-house, she would have to make arrangements with cake ingredient suppliers to ensure that she would get the ingredients even if others competed for them. Critical to her success, China needed baker’s secrets to make such a great cake. Most importantly, because China had many more bakers than she needed but not enough money or know-how, she would need to trade her strengths for the others.
With strategies set, China set out to implement her plans. She first told all comers that they could build a cake factory in her special cake factory zones, and that they could bake cakes for all of China’s people. With the announcement of this cake bonanza, Bakers came from all over the world for the chance to make cake for China. When asked how big to make the factories, China said to make them ten times larger than they first imagined. The bakers would need access to money and lots of it.
Oddly, While China had such big plans for cake factories, no one in China could afford to buy such magnificent cakes, and no one in China knew how to make them. So if the baker wanted to make cakes in China, the baker would have to teach Chinese baker assistants the secrets to baking a cake. The baker would also have to go back home for bank funding and for free markets to sell the cakes made in China back at home.
Of course, when presented with such a sweet deal, the banker could not pass it up. Together, the baker and the banker convinced everyone back home of the sweet deal from China. China would sell the cake for half the price of home prices so that everyone would be happy. The baker could get a great factory, at least one in China, and had the hope of selling cake to the Chinese some day. The people back home could get a cake that tasted just as good because the baker used his secrets in China to make the cake. Of course the financier back home was happy. Increasingly, cake factories back home seemed to be having trouble selling cakes at twice the price of Chinese cakes, and with cheaper prices and free markets, China cake factories promised great banking returns. The only people that seemed upset were the baker’s old assistants back home who no longer were employed to bake cakes, but no matter, everyone else was happy.
China was happy that her plan was progressing. She would get a grand cake factory that could be used for the great celebration. China could also begin to build relationships with all the worldwide cake ingredient suppliers. She now needed to spread the icing for the next layer of the plan. The baker assistants back home were the ones buying the cakes made by the cake factories in China. If they didn’t have a way to pay for the cakes, all would be lost.
China knew, when planning for her modernization party, that in order to make a cake big enough for the triumphant celebration, she would need so many factories, roads, ingredients, and educated cake bakers that it would take all the expendable money in Europe and America combined to build them. In fact, it would take much of the world’s stock market value and even the equity in people’s homes if she were to be able to throw a truly triumphant party. She needed the baker assistants back home to borrow from their savings, their homes, and their future earnings if the plan was to succeed.
No worries, China had studied capitalist boom-bust cycles of the past. She knew it was very possible for bankers to create the boom once again, in the exact same manner as Europe and America had fallen prey to many times before, and that during the short boom, she could fund her party. Given the opportunity to fund all the cakes in China, bankers back home repeated their very sins of the past. Their patterns had remained predictable for centuries, reacting in a frenzy every time a cake bonanza presented itself. This time they dropped interest rates, made crazy loans, created IRAs and 401 Ks, and escalated not one but three bubbles to draw out as much money as they could to fund as many cake factories as they could in as short a time as they could.
The feeding frenzy occurs because there is only so much time the batter can rise before it falls. When the bubbles finally popped, China had her cake factories, all the baker assistants back home had borrowed more than they could ever pay back, and all the bankers back home had made enough money to live happily ever after.
Now came the appointed hour of the triumphant party for the return of the Empire. By this time, China had been building ingredient relationships unabated, because the bakers back here at home no longer bought baking ingredients. China had built the world’s fastest, largest most efficient ships to bring all the needed ingredients to her shore. She had built massive highways to transport the ingredients to her impressive, massive, modern cake factories. She had educated all her people to fill the ranks of cake bakers. She had saved historic amounts of money from the cheap baked goods she sold to the baking assistants back home and now could buy all the ingredients she needed.
But wait, what about the party back home? Now that it was time for her great celebration, China bought up all the ingredients that were supposed to be for the party back home. The baker’s assistants back home no longer had money to buy cakes, so the Chinese cake factories now could turn their focus inward on their country to bake for the celebration. But really, Chinese cake factories hadn’t any competition for ingredients. The baker’s assistants back home had long lost their knowledge of cake baking. The cake factories had long fallen into disrepair and could no longer be used to make cake. The roads back home were in disrepair. The cake baking schools back home had fallen behind without local businesses to spur them to excellence. The ingredient suppliers had long ago built relationships with China’s bakers and knew where their bread was buttered.
As the triumphant party was being held in China and the great cake was being presented to her party guests, back home all that anyone could do was watch from afar. The bakers had lost their market for cakes back home. Without demand, they could not make the payments on the bank loans and they defaulted. Without sufficient buyers, they turned over their factories to the Chinese. Without customers back home and without money or credit to pay for new cake factories back home, the bakers now became unemployed themselves. The bankers, now without payments on their loans, well they closed up shop as well.