Posts tagged ‘China’s economy’


China Has a ‘New Normal’ Too – Businessweek

China’s Communist Party leaders are known for their turgid jargon, much of it dating back decades to when Mao Zedong still dominated dogma. But sometimes, apparently, they feel the need to borrow from less hoary, more capitalistic sources.

A technology and manufacturing facility in Shenzhen, China

That is what Xi Jinping has done with his “new normal” theory of the Chinese economy, now getting lots of play in the state media. The phrase, first popularized by Pacific Investment Management Co., or Pimco, the giant Newport Beach (Calif) bond fund manager, referred of course to the lackluster economic growth following the global financial crisis.

Earlier this year Xi used the then-already tired cliché while on a May inspection trip to Henan, the province southwest of the Chinese capital. Then it got a real airing during a speech he gave at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum last month. “A new normal of China’s economy has emerged with several notable features,” Xi said, speaking before more than 1,500 global business executives in Beijing, reported the Party-owned Global Times on Nov. 10.

“First, the economy has shifted gear from the previous high speed to a medium-to-high-speed growth. Second, the economic structure is constantly improved and upgraded. Third, the economy is increasingly driven by innovation instead of input and investment,” the paper wrote, paraphrasing Xi.

Translation: Yes, the economy will not grow at the hyper rates all of you had gotten used to—still, no need for alarm. We are making the transition to a healthier, more sustainable version, this one driven more by consumption, services, and, oh yes, innovation. “The ‘new normal’ theory elaborated by Chinese President Xi Jinping would be one of the hallmarks to be engraved in history,” the Global Times ambitiously predicted.

“We must understand the new normal, adjust to the new normal, and develop under the new normal—coming to terms with the new normal will be the ‘main logic’ for economic growth for some time,” the official Xinhua News Agency wrote today, in a report on the three-day, high-level Central Economic Work Conference that closed Thursday. “The new normal has not changed the strategic importance of a period that will see great achievements,” it promised.

via China Has a ‘New Normal’ Too – Businessweek.


China Service and Manufacturing Sectors Slowing, Reports Beijing – Businessweek

In another sign that China’s economy is downshifting, an index released on Monday showed China’s service sector growth slowing in October to a nine-month low. The bad news followed Saturday’s poor showing for manufacturing, which grew at its slowest pace in five months.

Manufacturing in China expanded at its slowest pace in five months

The service reading, issued by the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing in Beijing, fell to 53.8, from 54 in September. Manufacturing came in at 50.8, down from 51.1 the month before. (Above 50 shows expansion.) The economy “still faces some headwinds,” Beijing said in a statement on Saturday.

In October, China’s statistics bureau announced that gross domestic product grew 7.3 percent in the third quarter, its slowest pace since the global financial crisis. “The momentum looks weak,” warned Hua Changchun, a China economist at Nomura Holdings in Hong Kong, reported Bloomberg News on Nov. 3.

via China Service and Manufacturing Sectors Slowing, Reports Beijing – Businessweek.


Is China’s Housing Bubble Beginning to Burst? – Businessweek

Earlier this month, financial analysts from Japan-based Nomura Group (NMR) issued a grim report on China’s housing market: “To us, it is no longer a question of ‘if’ but rather ‘how severe’ the property market correction will be,” the report read.

Residential apartment buildings under construction in Qingzhou city, in east China’s Shandong province

Nomura—which has historically been bearish on China, as the Wall Street Journal observes—predicted that a downturn in the housing market, caused by oversupply and shrinking developer financing, could sharply impact China’s economy, perhaps even driving GDP growth to less than 6 percent in 2014.

China’s economy is vulnerable because property investment accounts for anywhere from 16 percent to 20 percent of gross domestic product, according to varying analyses.

via Is China’s Housing Bubble Beginning to Burst? – Businessweek.

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The economy: On cloud nine trillion | The Economist

SOME economic journalists are like stormbirds: they come alive when financial clouds gather and the thunder rolls. Your correspondent’s career has been different. He has migrated away from trouble, escaping crisis-struck Britain for booming India in 2007, then leaving that country before it sank into its sad, stagflationary funk. This will be his last week covering China’s economy—which is just as well, given the whiff of ozone in the air.

This month China’s corporate-bond market suffered its first default since it began in its present form, a widely watched manufacturing index fell for the fifth month in a row, and officials in one eastern county rushed to placate worried depositors lining up to withdraw money from two small banks. It would seem a good time for a fair-weather bird to fly away.

But China remains a resilient economy. It still has substantial room for error and a lot of room to grow. Although it is already a very big economy (its $9 trillion GDP is bigger than 154 other economies combined) it is not yet a very rich one. Its income per head (at market exchange rates) is only 13% of America’s and ranks below that of more than 80 other economies.

Because China is already the world’s second-biggest economy, it attracts scrutiny that smaller economies escaped when they were at a similar stage of maturity. Observers expect it to pass financial thresholds that other catch-up economies did not cross until much later in their development. This month’s bond default, for example, represents a painful but necessary step towards maturity for China’s capital markets. Most commentators saw it as a woefully belated coming-of-age. But Japan did not record its first bond default until the late 1990s, when its standard of living was 3.7 times China’s today. Likewise back when South Korea had the same income per person as China enjoys now, foreigners paid little attention to its monthly manufacturing wobbles.

The heft of China’s GDP combined with the modesty of its GDP per person is one of the curiosities of China’s economy. But it is not the only one (see box). Another example is China’s “financial repression”. Its central bank caps the interest rate that banks can pay depositors, imposing an implicit tax on their savings. But in China, unlike other countries, this repression does not discourage saving. In fact, it appears to do the opposite. The country’s households are “target savers”: they squirrel away money to meet a fixed financial goal, such as the down-payment on a home. If their thrift is poorly rewarded, they simply do more to reach their target.

China’s financial repression has therefore proved surprisingly sustainable (although restless depositors have sought higher returns from online funds and wealth-management products). It has contributed to China’s remarkably high rate of saving, which reached over 50% of GDP in 2012. This is more than China can invest at home, obliging it to export some of its saving (typically 2-3% of GDP) abroad. This incurs the wrath of its trading partners. But therein lies a paradox. Even as China is frequently lambasted for excess saving, the same critics also accuse it of excess borrowing. Worrywarts point out that credit in China has increased from about 100% of GDP five years ago to about 135% of GDP today. The central bank’s broader measure of financing (which includes the bond market and some bits of shadow banking among other items) is 180%.

How can an economy suffer from both excess saving and excess borrowing? This riddle is best answered with a textbook parable. Consider a one-farm economy, which yields a GDP of 100 ears of corn. The farmer gives half to a fieldhand as wages and keeps the rest for himself. The fieldhand eats half of his wages and lends the remainder (25 ears) to the farmer. The farmer now has 75 ears of corn. He eats 25 of them, ploughs 48 back into the field as seed corn for next year’s harvest and lends two to a neighbouring farm.

To an economist, saving means anything not consumed. Therefore this economy, like China’s, has a remarkably high saving rate (the 50% of corn not eaten). But this high saving is combined with heavy domestic borrowing: the farmer has added 25% of GDP to outstanding debt. If, instead of lending corn to the farmer, the fieldhand ate it, saving would fall (because more corn is now being consumed) and so would borrowing (because the farmhand is now consuming his own earnings, rather than lending half of them out).

China’s economy last year harvested over $9 trillion worth of goods and services. Almost half of that output consisted of new capital goods (infrastructure, housing, factories and machinery). This investment rate of about 48% of GDP is among the highest ever recorded. Some of this frantic accumulation has been wasteful: building cities without citizens, and bridges without destinations. It is as if the farmer scattered some seed corn on stony ground, where it failed to take root.

This “malinvestment” is a pity but it is not enough to undermine China’s economic future. The country, as its critics suggest, should have consumed these resources rather than squandering them on ill-conceived ventures. If it had done so, its people would be happier. But, it is important to realise, they would not be any wealthier. Consumption, like malinvestment, leaves no useful assets behind. If the farmhand had eaten the wheat his boss scattered on stony ground, he would be better fed but next year’s harvest would be no bigger.

via The economy: On cloud nine trillion | The Economist.

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