A Chinese investor view stock prices at a securities company in Shenyang of Liaoning Province, China.
A Chinese investor view stock prices at a securities company in Shenyang of Liaoning Province, China. - 
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Kai Ryssdal: The housing market aside, Wall Street got a little bump today. And there are a couple of ways to account for that. One, the day after back-to-back 12-year lows -- what's not to love about stock prices, right? So, people were in a buying mood. Two, stimulus. Not ours, though. The Chinese. And the possibility of Beijing making a big add-on to the half-trillion-dollar stimulus package it announced back in November. That plan really hasn't done much so far. But the logic today -- such as it is -- goes something like this: That if you can just get Chinese demand going again, that'll somehow kick-start the rest of the global economy, too.

We asked Ashley Milne-Tyte to see if the idea can stand closer inspection.

ASHLEY MILNE-TYTE: Much of the money in the first package went to infrastructure and construction. Barry Naughton is a professor of the Chinese economy at the University of California, San Diego. He expects the latest stimulus will be aimed more at businesses and consumers. He says it won't have a direct effect on the U.S. economy.

BARRY NAUGHTON: I think what it really does is it makes it much less likely that the two countries will get into economic conflict. And it gives China time to bring down its surplus -- a trade surplus -- by stimulating the domestic economy.

That surplus was fueled by foreigners buying Chinese goods -- that's happening a lot less these days. Donald Straszheim heads Straszheim Global Advisors. He says if the Chinese start spending more, the U.S. could get a small boost.

DONALD STRASZHEIM: But it is a fantasy for us to think that their stimulus package is going to be a material lift to our, uh, economic future.

He says China just doesn't buy enough from us to make a big difference. Ben Carliner is director of research at the Economic Strategy Institute. He says if the Chinese build more, demand for raw materials should help commodity producers like Australia and Brazil. But not much.

BEN CARLINER: In the long run it really depends on the recovery of the global economy to really create the demand that's going to cause prices to rise again, in commodity markets, and so far the news has been unrelentingly bad.

Carliner says the world's economic problems are too large for China to make much of a dent.

In New York, I'm Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.