China GDP

A reported export surge in September is failing to dispel the gloom suffusing forecasts for China’s third quarter GDP growth, which several economists predict will slump to a five-year low.

One problem lies with the export numbers themselves, which raise suspicions that over-invoicing may once again be artificially inflating export statistics as Chinese smuggle hot money into the mainland from Hong Kong to take advantage of an appreciating renminbi. Continue reading »

A surge in fake invoicing is once again inflating China’s export figures, according to a survey, raising questions over a mysterious recent ballooning in Beijing’s trade surplus and suggesting that inflows of hot money may be rising.

A survey of executives at 200 export companies, trading firms and shipping agents in China in September revealed a spike in the number of respondents who think over-invoicing of exports is resurgent (see chart). The levels are reminiscent of late 2013, when hot money inflows prompted a managed depreciation of the renminbi. Continue reading »

Wealth is not necessarily translating into health for China’s growing cohort of millionaires, many of whom complain of eating disorders, too much alcohol and an average of just 6.2 hours of sleep a night (see chart).

Fast living is blamed for a variety of ailments, with around a third of millionaires (those with a personal wealth of Rmb10m or US$1.6m, £1m) suffering from insomnia, headaches, fatigue and memory loss while smaller proportions endure hair loss, immune problems, numb limbs and smokers’ coughs, according to a survey by Hurun Research Institute released on Friday.

Such conditions underpin a burgeoning demand among wealthy Chinese for products, treatments and lifestyle choices that are thought to confer health. “There is a clear trend among the Chinese millionaire class towards exercise, eating more carefully and generally taking better care of their bodies,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman of the Hurun Report. Continue reading »

China’s factories suffered a fourth consecutive month of contracting activity in April, according to a private survey on Monday, suggesting a GDP growth slowdown in the world’s second largest economy is extending into the second quarter of the year.

Outside China, the slowdown threatens to exacerbate the impact on several vulnerable emerging market economies (check out the ranking here). Inside China, the softening economy is fostering a yawning divergence in fortunes – with some regions, sectors and people feeling it far worse than others. Continue reading »

This news that China is poised to overtake the US as the world’s largest economy in purchasing power parity terms has prompted plenty of discussion. But, as Jamil Anderlini, the FT’s Beijing bureau chief, points out, size isn’t everything. So here is yet another way of looking at China’s place in the global economy and another excuse to mull how we measure these things.

In a new report, the big brains at the McKinsey Global Institute, the consulting house’s own think-tank, try to capture the ways in which globalisation and particularly “flows” of capital, goods, services, people, and data are exploding and finding new forms. They argue that the world today is as much about the flow of data and services as the traditional trade in goods. And they point out that, increasingly, trade is really about “knowledge-intensive” goods and service. In 2012 the trade in knowledge-intensive goods and services – think computer chips, smart phones etc – accounted for $12.6tn of the total $26tn in global “flows”. Continue reading »

China’s release of GDP data on Wednesday is triggering a fresh bout of scepticism over the accuracy of Beijing’s statistics. The key question is whether the reported GDP growth rate of 7.4 per cent in the first quarter gives a misleadingly strong impression of the real state of the world’s second largest economy?

“In our view, the 7.4% YoY growth does not reflect the full scale of the economic slowdown in 1Q14, and the actual growth is closer to 7.0-7.2% YoY,” wrote Shen Jianguang, economist at Mizuho Securities in Hong Kong. Continue reading »

There is no doubt that emerging market (EM) investors have cheered up considerably of late. Following a torrid January and February, virtually all asset classes in the EM universe appear – on aggregate at least – to be gaining in value.

The bellwether stock index, the MSCI EM index, is up 9.6 per cent from its low on February 5. EM sovereign bonds are yielding an average of 5.51 per cent, down 0.37 per cent since January 1. Local currency bonds are, in many cases, producing stellar returns sharpened by windfall currency gains. Indeed, some EM currencies are among the world’s best performers, with the Indonesian rupiah rising 7.81 per cent, the Brazilian real gaining 7.3 per cent and the Indian rupee climbing 2.8 per cent so far this year. Continue reading »

Investment banks slashed forecasts for China’s GDP growth on Thursday after Beijing reported the biggest slowdown in investment for more than a decade and the slowest retail sales expansion for nine years. Confidence was further undermined by news that a well-known steel mill has failed to repay loans that came due last week.

Ting Lu, China economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said the bank was cutting its first quarter GDP growth forecast to 7.3 per cent from 8 per cent and the full year forecast to 7.2 per cent from 7.6 per cent previously. Nomura Securities revised down its first quarter forecast to 7.3 per cent from 7.5 per cent previously but kept its full year prediction at 7.4 per cent. UBS revised down its full year forecast to 7.5 per cent from 7.8 per cent previously. Continue reading »

For many emerging markets, the most worrying aspect of Chinese economic statistics announced on Thursday is that they reveal a slump in the construction spree that has sucked in vast quantities of metal ores and other commodities from Latin America, Africa, Russia and parts of Asia.

But which EM economies are most vulnerable as China throws the commodity cycle out of joint? Craig Botham, emerging markets strategist at Schroders, has come up with a vulnerability ranking (see chart) that identifies the exposure of EM countries to a slowdown in net non-food commodity exports to China. Continue reading »

A gloomy outlook for key Chinese economic data to be announced on Thursday is prompting analysts to predict that Beijing may take steps to stimulate the economy to prevent GDP growth from falling too far below its target of “about 7.5 per cent” this year.

The shifting perceptions follow a downbeat forecast from the State Information Centre, a government think tank, which projected GDP growth in the first quarter of this year may come in at “nearly 7.5 per cent”, down from 7.7 per cent in the whole of 2013. It also said fixed asset investment – a key indicator of Chinese demand for metal ores, steel, cement and other inputs – would grow at 18.6 per cent in the quarter, down 2.3 per cent year on year. Continue reading »

When China’s premier was an up-and-comer in the provinces, he famously told US diplomats that he looked at indicators including electricity consumption and freight transport to gauge the true state of the world’s second largest economy. According to a Wikileaks cable, Li Keqiang said such figures were more reliable than the government’s own official GDP growth number.

Embarrassingly for the then premier, Wen Jiabao, the “Keqiang index” was thus christened and was subsequently used by economists to cross-check the GDP growth numbers revealed every March at the annual session of China’s parliament, the National People’s CongressContinue reading »

So rarely does China’s official GDP growth target bear more than a passing resemblance to subsequent reality (see chart), that it might be regarded as a less than useful indicator.

This year, however, much is riding on which number – if any –Beijing announces as its GDP target for 2014 at the annual National People’s Congress (NPC), which convenes on Wednesday. There are several potential permutations, each of which may indicate very different policy intentions. Continue reading »

Just when world markets need them least, new signs of underlying economic weakness are emerging from China.

Data from China Confidential, an FT research service on China, show that the real estate market – one of the key 2013 engines of Chinese growth – is starting to sputter. Continue reading »

So, China’s gross domestic product grew by 7.7 per cent in 2013. Much media comment has focused on how this performance, by Chinese standards, is relatively lacklustre. It is, together with last year’s 7.7 per cent expansion, the lowest growth rate since 1999.

However, there is another perspective. A quick look at the International Monetary Fund’s list of countries’ GDP numbers shows that China grew last year by an amount somewhat smaller than the size of the entire Indonesian economy but larger than Turkey. Continue reading »

Michael PettisThe 6th in our series of guest posts on the outlook for 2014 is by Michael Pettis

November’s Third Plenum proposed significant economic reforms to rebalance China’s economy and reduce its addiction to debt, in large part by reversing many of the processes that drove growth in the past three decades. Of course this potentially radical shift in China’s development model will make predicting economic performance in 2014 more difficult than ever.

And we have already seen how difficult reform is likely to be. The past four years were characterised by a stop-and-go process of decelerating growth, in which periodic attempts by the regulators to constrain credit caused the economy to slow sharply but, as policy makers backed off each time, both GDP and credit growth subsequently reignited, although at gradually declining paces. We will see this even more sharply in 2014, with a continued unstable balance between attempts to constrain credit growth and attempts to keep the economy from slowing too quickly. Continue reading »