China Falters, and the Global Economy Is Forced to Adapt

By KEITH BRADSHER

With deepening economic fears about China, multinational corporations and countries are having to respond to a new reality as a once sure bet becomes uncertain.

HONG KONG — The commodities giant BHP Billiton spent heavily for years, mining iron ore across Australia, digging for copper in Chile, and pumping oil off the coast of Trinidad. The company could be confident in its direction as commodities orders surged from its biggest and best customer, China.

Now, BHP is pulling back, faced with a slowing Chinese economy that will no longer be the same dominant force in commodities. Profit is falling and the company is cutting its investment spending budget by more than two-thirds.

China’s rapid growth over the last decade reshaped the world economy, creating a powerful driver of corporate strategies, financial markets and geopolitical decisions. China seemed to have a one-way trajectory, momentum that would provide a steady source of profit and capital.

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