China slowdown

Zhou Xiaochan, China's central bank governorClearly, China’s interest rate cut on Friday was motivated by a desire to manage a flagging growth story. But the announcement also revealed a few sub-plots, which together may say more about Beijing’s mindset than the dominant narrative.

The first point, several analysts said, is that Beijing’s monetary easing may well have further to run, following the decision by the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) to cut its benchmark lending rate by 0.4 percentage points to 5.6 per cent, while cutting its deposit rate by 0.25 per cent to 2.75 per cent. Read more

By Xiao Qi, China Confidential

China’s shadow finance sector has become a global concern. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank have both warned about the risks associated with the rapid build-up of assets within such an opaque sector, while central bankers now regularly reference Chinese shadow finance as a key potential risk to global economic stability.

But while concern over the lurking horrors in China’s financial shadows remains justified, regulatory actions mean that the systemic risks that they pose are finally starting to ebb. This is happening in spite of the fact that the overall scale of the shadow system is continuing to expand. Read more

By Alastair Campbell and W. John Hoffmann, Exceptional Resources Group

“There is no difference between reform and anti-corruption: both must be implemented within the framework of law”.

So said Chinese leader Xi Jinping, and with the end of a high level Communist Party meeting last month, the significance of Xi’s “Rule of Law” campaign has become crystal clear. It is a key tool in his attempt to restructure the framework of Party political power and decision-making via the four new Party central leading groups which he chairs. Read more

In the years since the financial crisis, emerging markets have been awash with free-flowing global liquidity. Easy money from western central banks – notably the Fed – has driven up equity markets and currencies, and slashed borrowing costs.

On Wednesday, the QE punchbowl is finally set for the dishwasher. So will investors in emerging markets call it a night? Read more

By George Magnus

Serial disappointments in emerging country growth rates since 2011 has forced the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to cut its five-year-ahead forecasts for a group of 153 emerging and low-income developing countries on six occasions since late 2011 (see chart).

However, in its latest World Economic Outlook, the IMF again assumes that current disappointments will give way to restored equilibrium growth rates over the next five years. But what if there is no equilibrium and emerging market (EM) growth continues to disappoint? Read more

By Alastair Campbell and W. John Hoffmann, Exceptional Resources Group

The “rule of law” is set to dominate China’s key Communist Party plenum in October, Xinhua, the official news agency, has said. The rule of law is a “must” if the country is to attain “economic growth, clean government, cultural prosperity, social justice and a sound environment”, Xinhua added.

Many observers would agree. Some may even believe that China is about to embrace a Western-style system in which all actors – the government, institutions, companies and individuals – become subservient to an independent legal code. But what, in practice, is the renewed focus on rule of law likely to mean for China’s development? Read more

There is more gloomy news for the world’s second largest economy. A comprehensive official survey of Chinese households, businesses and banks finds demand for loans slackening further in the third quarter, suggesting scant prospects of a reprieve from the credit slump seen in August and July.

Some 3,100 banks interviewed by the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), the central bank, reported a significant easing in loan demand among all three categories of firms – small, medium and large – for the third quarter, which ends at the end of September.

The loan demand index fell to 66.6 per cent, down from 71.5 per cent (see chart). The muted demand for loans is set to create headwinds for the PBoC’s initiative this week to boost economic growth by injecting Rmb500bn ($81bn) into the five largest state-owned banks, economists said. Read more

By Guonan Ma, Bruegel

Against a backdrop of weakening domestic demand, and in the slipstream of a major debate about whether Chinese monetary policy in the last year has been too restrictive, there have been definite signs of Chinese monetary loosening in recent weeks. This makes sense. Timely and measured monetary easing will support growth, facilitate structural rebalancing and underpin rapid economic reform.

There is little doubt that Chinese growth has been losing momentum. During the past few quarters there were clear signs of rising inventories, slumping property sales, producer price deflation, declining consumer price inflation, weakening corporate earnings, slowing investment and anaemic industrial production. Fortunately, private consumption is still holding up. Read more

By Qu Hongbin, Co-Head of Asian Economic Research, HSBC

For many, China’s growth model, which has delivered average annual GDP growth of 10 per cent over the past three decades, simply looks wrong: a national savings rate of around 50 per cent is unheard of in a large, modern economy.

A typical diagnosis states that China invests too much and consumes too little. The prescription is “rebalancing” – moving the economy away from investment towards consumption-led growth. However, a consumption-led growth model has little in theory or evidence to support it. Read more

By Andrew Brown of Emerging Capital Partners

Last week the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted a further drop in China’s growth to 7.3 per cent in 2014, the lowest figure that the country has experienced in the last 23 years.

China’s continued economic slowdown as it shifts from export-led to consumer-driven growth has prompted speculation as to the knock-on effect on economies that have benefited from China’s rise. Debate has centred on whether many frontier economies, including those of sub-Saharan Africa, are reliant on continued rapid growth in China’s demand for commodities to drive their own economic development. Read more

China may have announced a mini-stimulus to boost growth but it’s unlikely to prevent the world’s second-largest economy from slipping into a technical recession this year. At least that’s the view of economist Diana Choyleva at Lombard Street Research.

Of course, the basic idea that China could indeed contract for two straight quarters relies on one simple assumption: the official numbers aren’t just wrong, they are way, way out of whack with reality. Read more

Inflation below target; slumping exports; growth forecasts down – it’s not been a good week for China data.

The market response? Time to buy! The Shanghai composite index has just closed up 3.2 per cent, having been up 2.2 per cent on Thursday. It’s the best two-day gain since early 2012, according to Bloomberg. Read more

If a company suspends shares once amid fraud accusation, it could be merely unlucky. When it does it again six months later, it starts to look like a trend.

That is the unfortunate situation that Zoomlion, China’s second largest maker of heavy machinery, finds itself in now. Back in January, newspaper offices around the world received an anonymous letter accusing Zoomlion of falsely inflating sales, backed up by 76 pages of purported sales records. Zoomlion rejected the accusations as “false” and “groundless”. Its share price fell more than six per cent when trading resumed. The events of this week are eerily similar. Read more

By Mitul Kotecha of Crédit Agricole.

It was not so long ago when expectations for the Chinese currency, the renminbi, had shifted to a prolonged period of weakness against the US dollar. This corresponded with the view that the Chinese authorities would use their currency as a tool to help cushion the impact of an exports slowdown.

All of this changed in late July from when the RMB began a multi-month period of appreciation at a pace that has astounded many analysts. Read more

Assigning letters to economic trajectories was very much in vogue back in 2009. Would recoveries be ‘V’, ‘W’ or ‘L’ shaped? Now the craze seems to be coming to China.

October’s official PMI data showed that China’s factories are back to growth – just. But analysts disagree about whether this points to a big turnaround. Read more