At Forbes, Karl Smith suggests that the global savings glut may be a result of the Chinese government's willingness to invest at a loss at an unprecedented scale, hoping to earn that back way down the road after more of its citizens have urbanized.
China at some points has had investment rates of in excess of 40% of GDP. For super-geeks this exceeds the Ramsey Rule at a zero discount rate. For non-geeks it means that there is no investment strategy under which this is the profitable thing to do.
Its always hard to tell but on balance I think the Chinese government is aware of this, yet is willing to lose money on its capital investments in order to provide jobs for people moving to the city. This is a smart move if you think cities produce agglomeration effects.
With apologies to the less wonkish, China is using physical capital as a loss leader in order to grow cities that will produce network effects will in turn foster the human capital that really makes a country rich.
In this way China has become like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, a Destroyer-of-Worlds. You can’t win a physical capital accumulation battle against someone whose plan is to overinvest and lose money on the physical capital.
If the Chinese government will invest so much of its GDP in these types of projects, that takes those investment opportunities out of play.