The Inflationary Spiral: The Experience in China, 1939-1950

By Kia-Ngau Chang | Go to book overview

Chapter 5 An Analytical Account Of Chinese Inflation, 1937-1949

1. INFLATION POTENTIAL IN AN UNDERDEVELOPED ECONOMY

Role of Money in an Underdeveloped Economy, with Special Reference to China before the Sino-Japanese War: The Rural-Urban Dichotomy

Both monetary flows and the functions which money performs reflect the stage of a country's economic development. In some underdeveloped economies the role of money is restricted by the existence of non-market sectors and by the fragmentation of the economy into isolated economic units. Relatively little specialization of production and little access to distributive and transport facilities may severely limit the flow of goods and productive factors among geographical localities. In this situation money is primarily employed to facilitate exchange within relatively limited geographical areas, and markets tend to be highly localized in nature. At this stage of development in China, characteristic of that country on the eve of the Sino-Japanese war, a proliferation of highly localized markets was not integrated into broader regional or national markets. Sharp discrepancies in conditions of supply, demand, and prices frequently appeared in neighboring areas beyond the reach of modern modes of transport. Surpluses and deficits of food supplies, for example, were reported in markets within a few miles of each other, and resultant price discrepancies were seldom equalized by the movement of goods.

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See Chang Pei-kang, Agriculture and Industrialization ( Cambridge, Mass., 1949), pp. 198-199.

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