China’s growth has been predicated on being the world's go-to assembly line. But a combination of higher labor costs, automation, the trade war forcing a redrawing of global supply chains and China's own interest in moving far up the value chain has made blue-collar manufacturing a thing of the past for the world’s No. 2 economy.
Ask a portfolio manager what they like about China and it will be consumers, tech and big banks. The last two are too expensive. The one thing missing is the thing that’s made China China: its ability to manufacture widgets. Manufacturing and industrial firms are the least interesting Chinese asset to hold these days.
“It’s mostly within manufacturing and industrials where we are seeing the most weakness in China,” says Asha Mehta, a fund manager with Acadian Asset Management, a $95 billion asset manager based in Boston.