China consumption

By Andy Rothman, Matthews International Capital Management

Statistics announced on Wednesday do much to challenge the view that sub-par Chinese consumer spending is to blame for the sluggish rebalancing of the world’s second largest economy away from an over-reliance on investment. For too long this opinion has obscured the crucial truth that China is actually host to the world’s best consumer story.

Real retail sales rose 10.7 per cent in June and 10.8 per cent in the first half of this year, compared to the year earlier period. The strong momentum of this spending springs from solid foundations, with real urban household disposable income rising 7.1 per cent, up from 6.5 per cent a year ago. Read more

Michael PettisBy Michael Pettis

In October two Chinese academics presented research proposing that China’s National Bureau of Statistics under-reports the Chinese household consumption share of GDP, officially at 36 per cent, by ten to twelve percentage points. There have been other studies suggesting that consumption is understated in the official data (although by much lower amounts). Analysts who still doubt China’s need for significant economic reform have often claimed that consumption in China is much higher than the official data reports. These upward revisions show, they argue, that the consumption imbalance in China’s economy is not as bad as is often supposed, and so will not require a sharp slowdown in economic growth as China rebalances its economy.

There are at least three reasons to be sceptical about this argument. Read more

Hong Kong investors fond of buying into IPOs have been starved of late. The market for raising capital in the city has been dead for months, prompting some potential issuers to postpone, or even just scrap plans altogether.

But on Monday, those hoping that Hong Kong might be waking up received a much-needed calorie hit with the listing of Cantonese eaterie Tsui Wah. Read more

Remember those ghost malls in China? Sad, massive buildings like the New South China Mall in the southern factory town of Dongguan – the world’s largest by leasable area when it opened in 2005 – that just sit there empty for lack of tenants and customers?

According to new research on shopping centres by Knight Frank, the property consultancy, the ghost mall syndrome is spreading: overall vacancy rates in major cities have gone up this year. Read more