What would you do if you found $1 million? Would you live for the now and hit Vegas to party like a rock star? Or maybe you’re more Foolish, so you’d take advantage of the recent fall in housing prices to snatch up a piece of property for retirement?
More money, more problems
It may be difficult figuring out what to do with $1 million, but imagine you had $2 trillion -- and imagine you had a pretty strong feeling that $2 trillion was going to lose value over the next several years as the U.S. government prints money to pay for its various efforts to support the economy. Now what would you do?
This is the question facing China with its $2 trillion in foreign reserves, the result of the country’s massive export-oriented manufacturing base. While $2 trillion is a problem most investors would love to have to deal with, for now they can benefit by looking at what China is doing with its cash hoard.
Funds for the masses
Unless you’ve been cringing in a corner for the past year (no one would blame you), you’ve already heard about China’s massive stimulus plan. At $586 billion over two years, the government’s annual juicing of the economy was equal to 4% of China’s GDP -- twice that of the U.S. plan.
So where is all this money headed? Beijing had one thing on its mind when designing its stimulus plan: keeping people employed. To do so, they needed to spark economic activity that would keep the country’s massive poor population busy. This meant two things: labor-intensive infrastructure projects and modernization of the agriculture sector.
Roads (and rails) to well-being
The bulk of the stimulus is going to build up infrastructure such as railroads, highways, power transmission, and communication networks in the rural west. This means major international players like Caterpillar
Infrastructure development also means China’s hunger for raw materials will continue. This will help commodity producers like Freeport-McMoRan
Don’t forget the milk
In addition to building the roads, tracks, and power lines to connect the west with the industrial east, Beijing is also focusing on improving the incomes of China’s farmers.
The incredibly rapid growth of China’s cities and manufacturing sector has greatly reduced the amount of arable land and clean water. At the same time, the attraction of higher-paying jobs in the cities has depleted China’s farming population.
All this means farmers need to get more out of their land and their efforts in order to provide food for the ever-growing urban populace. To do this, the government is loosening land-use restrictions and providing subsidies for fertilizer and farm equipment.
This is good news for companies like PotashCorp
China, once a closed society, has started looking outward as its standing in the global economy has grown. Looking to turn its threatened dollars into useful assets, Beijing has begun sending Chinese companies out into the world with a directive to acquire the types of assets that will support the country’s push to eventually become the largest economy in the world.
This policy of acquisition means we haven’t seen the end of deals like Sinopec’s
Beijing has also begun extending financial aid to developing nations that have been sent reeling as investors in developed markets have rushed to safety from these uncertain markets. Not only does this provide China with a potentially profitable way to use its dollar reserves (as well as new political and economic relationships), it also helps stabilize the markets receiving the aid.
So, in addition to buying companies that will benefit directly from the focus of China’s stimulus, investors can look at other countries that will see benefits. Resource-rich countries like Australia, Brazil, and Canada should benefit nicely as China restarts its economic engine, as will neighboring Asian countries like Indonesia, South Korea, and Japan.
Here at The Motley Fool, the Global Gains team of analysts is searching these markets for the stocks that will turn China’s efforts into results for your portfolio. If you’re looking for ways to follow China’s lead and diversify away from the dollar, simply click here for a 30-day free guest pass to Global Gains.