Posts tagged ‘Economic growth’

22/08/2016

Capturing China’s $5 trillion productivity opportunity | McKinsey & Company

It won’t be easy, but shifting to a productivity-led economy from one focused on investment could add trillions of dollars to the country’s growth by 2030.

After three decades of sizzling growth, China is now regarded by the World Bank as an upper-middle-income nation, and it’s on its way to being one of the world’s advanced economies. The investment-led growth model that underpinned this extraordinary progress has served China well. Yet some strains associated with that approach have become evident.In 2015, the country’s GDP growth dipped to a 25-year low, corporate debt soared, foreign reserves fell by $500 billion, and the stock market dropped by nearly 50 percent. A long tail of poorly performing companies pulls down the average, although top-performing Chinese companies often have returns comparable with those of top US companies in their industries. More than 80 percent of economic profit comes from financial services—a distorted economy. Speculation that China could be on track for a financial crisis has been on the rise.

The nation faces an important choice: whether to continue with its old model and raise the risk of a hard landing for the economy, or to shift gears. A new McKinsey Global Institute report, China’s choice: Capturing the $5 trillion productivity opportunity, finds that a new approach centered on productivity could generate 36 trillion renminbi ($5.6 trillion) of additional GDP by 2030, compared with continuing the investment-led path. Household income could rise by 33 trillion renminbi ($5.1 trillion), as the exhibit shows.

Pursuing a new economic model

China has the capacity to manage the decisive shift to a productivity-led model. Its government can pull fiscal and monetary levers, such as raising sovereign debt and securing additional financing on the basis of 123 trillion renminbi in state-owned assets. China has a vibrant private sector, earning three times the returns on assets of state-owned enterprises. There are now 116 million middle-class and affluent households (with annual disposable income of at least $21,000 per year), compared with just 2 million such households in 2000. And the country is ripe for a productivity revolution. Labor productivity is 15 to 30 percent of the average in countries that are part of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

A new productivity-led model would enable China to create more sustainable jobs, reinforcing the rise of the consuming middle class and accelerating progress toward being a full-fledged advanced economy. Such a shift will require China to steer investment away from overbuilt industries to businesses that have the potential to raise productivity and create new jobs. Weak competitors would need to be allowed to fail rather than drag down profitability in major sectors. Consumers would have more access to services and opportunities to participate in the economy.

Making this transition is an urgent imperative. The longer China continues to accumulate debt to support near-term goals for GDP growth, the greater the risks of a hard landing. We estimate that the nonperforming-loan ratio in 2015 was already at about 7 percent, well above the reported 1.7 percent. If no visible progress is made to curb lending to poorly performing companies, and if the performance of Chinese companies overall continues to deteriorate, we estimate that the nonperforming-loan ratio could rise to 15 percent. This would trigger a substantial impairment of banks’ capital and require replenishing equity by as much as 8.2 trillion renminbi ($1.3 trillion) in 2019. In other words, every year of delay could raise the potential cost by more than 2 trillion renminbi ($310 billion). Although such an escalation would not lead to a systemic banking crisis, a liquidity crunch among corporate borrowers and waning confidence of investors and consumers during the recovery phase would have a significant negative impact on growth.

Our report identifies five major opportunities to raise productivity by 2030:

  • unleashing more than 39 trillion renminbi ($6 trillion) in consumption by serving middle-class consumers better
  • enabling new business processes through digitization
  • moving up the value chain through innovation, especially in R&D-intensive sectors, where profits are only about one-third of those of global leaders
  • improving business operations through lean techniques and higher energy efficiency, for instance, which could deliver a 15 to 30 percent productivity boost
  • strengthening competitiveness by deepening global connections, potentially raising productivity by 10 to 15 percent

Capturing these opportunities requires sweeping change to institutions. China needs to open up more sectors to competition, enable

corporate restructuring, and further develop its capital markets. It needs to raise the skills of the labor force to fill its talent gap and to sustain labor mobility. The government will need to manage conflicts among many stakeholders, as well as shift governance and incentives that rewarded a single-minded focus on rising GDP, even as it modernizes its own processes.

Exactly how can China’s economy become more productive? Go to Tableau Public to examine how six industry archetypes contribute to the country’s growth by province.

Source: Capturing China’s $5 trillion productivity opportunity | McKinsey & Company

12/08/2016

India’s ascent: Five opportunities for growth and transformation | McKinsey & Company

The country could create sustainable economic conditions in five ways, such as promoting acceptable living standards, improving the urban infrastructure, and unlocking the potential of women.

Twenty-five years ago, India embarked on a journey of economic liberalization, opening its doors to globalization and market forces. We, and the rest of the world, have watched as the investment and trade regime introduced in 1991 raised economic growth, increased consumer choice, and reduced poverty significantly.

Now, as uncertainties cloud the global economic picture, the International Monetary Fund has projected that India’s GDP will grow by 7.4 percent for 2016–17, making it the world’s fastest-growing large economy. India also compares favorably with other emerging markets in growth potential. (Exhibit 1).

The country offers an attractive long-term future powered largely by a consuming class that’s expected to more than triple, to 89 million households, by 2025.Exhibit 1

Liberalization has created new opportunities. The challenge for policy makers is to manage growth so that it creates the basis for sustainable economic performance. Although much work has been done, India’s transformation into a global economic force has yet to fully benefit all its citizens. There’s a massive unmet need for basic services, such as water and sanitation, energy, and health care, for example, while red tape makes it hard to do business. The government has begun to address many of these challenges, and the pace of change could accelerate in coming years as some initiatives gain scale.

From our vantage point, India has an exciting future. In the new McKinsey Global Institute report India’s ascent: Five opportunities for growth and transformation, we look at game-changing opportunities for the country’s economy and the implications for domestic businesses, multinational companies, and the government. The five areas we focus on by no means provide a comprehensive assessment of India’s prospects, but we believe they are among the most significant trends. Foreign and Indian businesses would do well to recognize these opportunities and reflect on how to exploit them.

1. From poverty to empowerment:

Acceptable living standards for allThe trickle-down effect of economic liberalization has lifted millions of Indians from indigence in the past two decades. The official poverty rate declined from 45 percent of the population in 1994 to 22 percent in 2012, but this statistic defines only the most dismal situations. By our broader measure of minimum acceptable living standards—spanning nutrition, water, sanitation, energy, housing, education, and healthcare—we find that 56 percent of Indians lacked the basics in 2012.

The country will need to address these gaps to achieve its potential. The task is certainly within India’s capacity, but policy makers will have to promote an agenda emphasizing job creation, growth-oriented investment, farm-sector productivity, and innovative social programs that help the people who actually need them. The private sector has a substantial role to play both in creating and providing effective basic services.

2. Sustainable urbanization:

Building India’s growth enginesBy 2025, MGI estimates, India will have 69 cities with a population of more than one million each. Economic growth will center on them, and the biggest infrastructure building will take place there. The output of Indian cities will come to resemble that of cities in middle-income nations (Exhibit 2).

In 2030, for example, Mumbai’s economy, a mammoth market of $245 billion in consumption, will be bigger than Malaysia’s today. The next four cities by market size will each have annual consumption of $80 billion to $175 billion by 2030.Exhibit 2To achieve sustainable growth, these cities will have to become more livable places, offering clean air and water, reliable utilities, and extensive green spaces. India’s urban transformation represents a huge opportunity for domestic and international businesses that can provide capital, technology, and planning know-how, as well as the goods and services urban consumers demand.

3. Manufacturing for India, in India

Although India’s manufacturing sector has lagged behind China’s, there will be substantial opportunities to invest in value-creating businesses and to create jobs. India’s appeal to potential investors will be more than just its low-cost labor: manufacturers there are building competitive businesses to tap into the large and growing local market. Further reforms and public infrastructure investments could make it easier for all types of manufacturing businesses—foreign and Indian alike—to achieve scale and efficiency.

4. Riding the digital wave:

Harnessing technology for India’s growthTwelve powerful technologies will benefit India, helping to raise productivity, improving efficiency across major sectors of the economy, and radically altering the provision of services such as education and healthcare. These technologies could add $550 billion to $1 trillion a year of economic value in 2025, according to our analysis, potentially creating millions of well-paying, productive jobs (including positions for people with moderate levels of formal education) and helping millions of Indians to enjoy a decent standard of living.

5. Unlocking the potential of Indian women: If not now, when?

Our research suggests that women now contribute only 17 percent of India’s GDP and make up just 24 percent of the workforce, compared with 40 percent globally. In the coming decade, they will represent one of the largest potential economic forces in the country. If it matched the progress toward gender parity of the region’s fastest-improving country, we estimate that it could add $700 billion to its GDP in 2025. Movement toward closing the gender gap in education and in financial and digital inclusion has begun, but there is scope for further progress.


Public-sector efforts to address the five areas are under way. The government is attempting to improve the investment climate and accelerate job creation—India’s ranking on the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report climbed to 55 in 2015–16, from 71 a year earlier. Officials are moving to make the government more efficient, using technology that can leapfrog traditional bottlenecks of a weak infrastructure. One billion Indian citizens, for example, are now registered under Aadhaar, the world’s largest digital-identity program and a potent platform for delivering benefits directly to the poor.

Realizing India’s promise will require national, state, and local leaders to adopt new approaches to governance and the provision of services. To meet the people’s aspirations, these officials will also need new capabilities. The requirements include private sector–style procurement and supply-chain expertise, deep technical skills for planning portfolios of infrastructure investments, and strong project-management capabilities to ensure that large capital projects finish on time and on budget. Training will be needed to help staff members use digital technologies to automate and reengineer processes, manage big data and advanced analytics, and improve interactions among citizens through digitized touchpoints, online-access platforms, portals, and messaging and payment platforms. The government could acquire these capabilities by adopting quality-oriented procurement policies and taking advantage of secondments from the private sector. For businesses, India represents a sizable market but will require a granular strategy and a locally focused operating model.

No single report can capture all the changes taking place in the country, but we have tried here to identify the most significant trends. Foreign and Indian businesses should consider how their strategies will be influenced by them. Policy makers should focus on helping all stakeholders to capitalize on them. By any measure, the challenge is daunting, but success could give a historic boost to India’s economy.

Download the full report on which this article is based, India’s ascent: Five opportunities for growth and transformation (PDF–4.0MB).

Source: India’s ascent: Five opportunities for growth and transformation | McKinsey & Company

01/07/2016

India factory growth at 3-month high in June on strong demand | Reuters

Indian manufacturing activity edged up to a three-month high in June, driven by stronger demand, but firms barely raised prices, a private survey showed, leaving the door open for another rate cut by the central bank this year.

The Nikkei/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 51.7 in June from May’s 50.7, its sixth month above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction after it fell below that level in December for the first time in more than two years.

“The domestic market continues to be the main growth driver, as the Indian economic upturn provides a steady stream of new business,” said Pollyanna De Lima, economist at Markit.

“There were also signs of an improvement in overseas markets, as new foreign orders rose. However, it looks as if lackluster global demand remains a headwind for Indian manufacturers.

“While retail inflation hit a near two-year high in May, the survey’s output prices sub-index fell to a three-month low of 50.1 in June versus 50.5 the previous month, as input costs rose at a weaker pace.

There was also broadly no change to manufacturing employment in India during June, the survey showed.

“This lack of inflationary pressures provides the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) with further leeway to boost economic growth through cutting its benchmark rate,” said De Lima.

According to a Reuters poll, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan could deliver another rate cut before his term ends in September. After cutting rates in April, he has left the key interest rate unchanged at a five-year low of 6.50 percent.

However, at the June policy meeting he signalled another rate cut later in the year if monsoon rains were sufficient enough to dampen upward pressure on food prices.

Rains are expected to be above average this year which could keep prices in control and give the government room to focus on key economic reforms in tandem with low interest rates.

Source: India factory growth at 3-month high in June on strong demand | Reuters

24/06/2016

Capturing China’s $5 trillion productivity opportunity | McKinsey & Company

It won’t be easy, but shifting to a productivity-led economy from one focused on investment could add trillions of dollars to the country’s growth by 2030.

After three decades of sizzling growth, China is now regarded by the World Bank as an upper-middle-income nation, and it’s on its way to being one of the world’s advanced economies. The investment-led growth model that underpinned this extraordinary progress has served China well. Yet some strains associated with that approach have become evident.

In 2015, the country’s GDP growth dipped to a 25-year low, corporate debt soared, foreign reserves fell by $500 billion, and the stock market dropped by nearly 50 percent. A long tail of poorly performing companies pulls down the average, although top-performing Chinese companies often have returns comparable with those of top US companies in their industries. More than 80 percent of economic profit comes from financial services—a distorted economy. Speculation that China could be on track for a financial crisis has been on the rise.

The nation faces an important choice: whether to continue with its old model and raise the risk of a hard landing for the economy, or to shift gears. A new McKinsey Global Institute report, China’s choice: Capturing the $5 trillion productivity opportunity, finds that a new approach centered on productivity could generate 36 trillion renminbi ($5.6 trillion) of additional GDP by 2030, compared with continuing the investment-led path. Household income could rise by 33 trillion renminbi ($5.1 trillion).

Pursuing a new economic model

China has the capacity to manage the decisive shift to a productivity-led model. Its government can pull fiscal and monetary levers, such as raising sovereign debt and securing additional financing on the basis of 123 trillion renminbi in state-owned assets. China has a vibrant private sector, earning three times the returns on assets of state-owned enterprises. There are now 116 million middle-class and affluent households (with annual disposable income of at least $21,000 per year), compared with just 2 million such households in 2000. And the country is ripe for a productivity revolution. Labor productivity is 15 to 30 percent of the average in countries that are part of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

A new productivity-led model would enable China to create more sustainable jobs, reinforcing the rise of the consuming middle class and accelerating progress toward being a full-fledged advanced economy. Such a shift will require China to steer investment away from overbuilt industries to businesses that have the potential to raise productivity and create new jobs. Weak competitors would need to be allowed to fail rather than drag down profitability in major sectors. Consumers would have more access to services and opportunities to participate in the economy.

Making this transition is an urgent imperative. The longer China continues to accumulate debt to support near-term goals for GDP growth, the greater the risks of a hard landing. We estimate that the nonperforming-loan ratio in 2015 was already at about 7 percent, well above the reported 1.7 percent. If no visible progress is made to curb lending to poorly performing companies, and if the performance of Chinese companies overall continues to deteriorate, we estimate that the nonperforming-loan ratio could rise to 15 percent. This would trigger a substantial impairment of banks’ capital and require replenishing equity by as much as 8.2 trillion renminbi ($1.3 trillion) in 2019. In other words, every year of delay could raise the potential cost by more than 2 trillion renminbi ($310 billion). Although such an escalation would not lead to a systemic banking crisis, a liquidity crunch among corporate borrowers and waning confidence of investors and consumers during the recovery phase would have a significant negative impact on growth.

Our report identifies five major opportunities to raise productivity by 2030:

  • unleashing more than 39 trillion renminbi ($6 trillion) in consumption by serving middle-class consumers better
  • enabling new business processes through digitization
  • moving up the value chain through innovation, especially in R&D-intensive sectors, where profits are only about one-third of those of global leaders
  • improving business operations through lean techniques and higher energy efficiency, for instance, which could deliver a 15 to 30 percent productivity boost
  • strengthening competitiveness by deepening global connections, potentially raising productivity by 10 to 15 percent

Capturing these opportunities requires sweeping change to institutions. China needs to open up more sectors to competition, enable corporate restructuring, and further develop its capital markets. It needs to raise the skills of the labor force to fill its talent gap and to sustain labor mobility. The government will need to manage conflicts among many stakeholders, as well as shift governance and incentives that rewarded a single-minded focus on rising GDP, even as it modernizes its own processes.

Source: Capturing China’s $5 trillion productivity opportunity | McKinsey & Company

16/06/2016

India Makes It Easier for Local Airlines to Fly Overseas – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s federal government on Wednesday relaxed the criteria for domestic airlines to fly overseas as part of a new civil-aviation policy aimed at driving growth in the sector.

Local carriers will no longer be restricted by the number of years they have operated domestically to fly abroad, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said.

Until now, they were required to complete five years of domestic service and have at least 20 planes in operation before being permitted to fly overseas. The government scrapped the time requirement but carriers must still reach the same criterion for planes or deploy 20% of their fleet on domestic routes.

Newer carriers such AirAsia India Pvt.—the local joint venture of Malaysia-based AirAsia Bhd.—and Vistara—the Indian airline venture of Singapore Airlines Ltd., have been pushing for a relaxation of the rules.

The new National Civil Aviation Policy was welcomed by Amar Abrol, CEO of AirAsia India, which started operating in India in June 2014. “The NCAP gives us clear direction to ramp up our operations in India and grow our business in the domestic segment before we scale our operations to fly international,” he said in a statement.

Both AirAsia and Vistara will need to increase their fleets significantly to qualify for starting international flights. AirAsia now has six planes and Vistara has 11.

Source: India Makes It Easier for Local Airlines to Fly Overseas – India Real Time – WSJ

10/06/2016

China now rivals US and Europe as growth engine for Asian exports | South China Morning Post

China is now an equal or even bigger driver of export growth in neighbouring economies than the US and EU combined, marking a significant shift in the economic pecking order since the 2008 global financial crisis.

That’s according to research by Deutsche Bank AG economists who weighed up the influence of the US and China over the rest of Asia through the prism of export growth, as well as the currency and bond markets.China committed to free trade, market reforms, says senior official

In Taiwan and Indonesia, for example, the growth of China’s gross domestic product (GDP) dominates the US and European Union’s as a source of export demand. In other economies, the trading giants are equally important.

“This is noticeably different from the pre-crisis years when China was much less important –- bordering on irrelevance – as an engine of growth in the region,” Deutsche analysts led by Asia-Pacific chief economist Michael Spencer wrote in a note.

After a rocky start to the year, China has been aided in its growth prospects by a record surge in credit in the first quarter. Key indicators for May are expected to show that the economy is continuing to find its footing and growth is on track to hit the Communist Party’s goal of 6.5 per cent to 7 per cent for 2016.

The International Monetary Fund in April upgraded its China growth forecasts by 0.2 percentage point for this year and next, following signs of “resilient domestic demand” and growth in services that offset weakness in manufacturing.

China needs market-driven interest rate system to help yuan become global currency: economists

Beyond the pace of GDP growth, China’s currency gyrations are also increasingly important across the region. While the dollar still drives volatility in most Asian currencies, the yuan is as least as important for fluctuations in the Malaysian ringgit and South Korean won and is growing in significance for other exchange rates, except the Philippines peso.

“Asia is far from being a ‘yuan bloc’, but idiosyncratic shocks to the yuan cannot be ignored,” according to the Deutsche analysts.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) surprised traders this week by setting the reference rate at weaker-than-expected levels, helping send the currency to its biggest declines in four months versus a trade-weighted basket that includes the yen and the euro. The rate’s fixing had become more predictable since early February after the PBOC pledged greater transparency and the yuan increasingly tracked moves in the dollar against major currencies. That was after a sudden weakening of the yuan in January fuelled fears of a devaluation and triggered global market turmoil. During the subsequent three months, the central bank adopted a more market-based system to set the rate and said the basket would play a bigger role.

China cooling imports are sending a huge chill across the global economy

But the US still dominates in the bond markets, and moves in Treasury yields continue to steer Asian bond trading. And even if Asia central banks don’t match rate tightening by the US Federal Reserve, financial conditions in the region may tighten if US yields increase.

“We find only weak evidence that fluctuations in Chinese yields have any impact on other countries’ bond markets,” the analysts said.

Source: China now rivals US and Europe as growth engine for Asian exports | South China Morning Post

10/06/2016

For India’s surging economy, small is beautiful | Reuters

For Rohan Sharma, business has never been better. Sales at his autoparts company in Gujarat are booming and the order book has almost doubled in the past year.

His Bhagirath Coach & Metal Fabricators has just invested nearly $120,000 in new machinery and plans to spend up to $1.2 million this year to expand capacity.

That’s an encouraging sign for Asia’s third-largest economy, where stressed balance sheets at big firms and heavy reliance on bank credit, which has dried up following a surge in troubled loans, have stymied efforts to revive private investment.

Sharma does not face such constraints. He says his firm is debt-free and relies mainly on internal resources to fund capacity expansion.

A survey from the Reserve Bank of India shows he is not alone. The annual study of nearly 240,000 unlisted small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) found they are saving their way to growth, helping transform India into the world’s fastest-growing large economy in the past two years.

India has more than 45 million SMEs, accounting for nearly 40 percent of gross domestic product. Most are unlisted, and their earnings growth has outpaced listed companies for the past three years.

“We never allowed exuberance to get the better of hard business logic,” Sharma said.

Sales at smaller private firms grew 12 percent in 2014/15, the central bank survey showed. Sales at listed big companies rose 1.4 percent over the same period.

Operating profit of the unlisted firms grew an annual 16.6 percent in the year, three times the pace at listed companies, and they increased their gross savings.

While higher expenses halved net profit growth at private firms, they still grew at double-digit pace. In contrast, listed companies struggled with shrinking profits.

Debt-laden big listed firms, meanwhile, are still reluctant to undertake new investments, and foreign firms can find India’s labyrinthine regulations overwhelming.

Also, infrastructure and resources needed for complex manufacturing, like roads, skilled labour and consistent power supply, is often lacking.

That led to a contraction in capital spending in the January-March quarter. Despite that, strong consumer spending helped power economic growth of 7.9 percent, the fastest rate among the world’s major economies.

Source: For India’s surging economy, small is beautiful | Reuters

18/03/2016

Here comes the modern Chinese consumer – McKinsey & Co

Despite concerns about economic growth, the country’s consumers keep spending. Yet our latest survey reveals changes in what they’re buying and how they’re buying it.

Cooling economic growth, a depreciating currency, and a gyrating stock market are making political and business leaders concerned that China’s economic dream may be ending. Yet Chinese consumers remain upbeat. In fact, consumer confidence has been surprisingly resilient over the past few years as salaries have continued to rise and unemployment has stayed low.

 

However, our latest survey of Chinese consumers reveals significant change lurks beneath the surface. Reflecting 10,000 in-person interviews with people aged 18 to 56 across 44 cities, our 2016 China consumer report found that the days of broad-based market growth are coming to an end. Consumers are becoming more selective about where they spend their money, shifting from products to services and from mass to premium segments. They are seeking a more balanced life where health, family, and experiences take priority. The popularity of international travel is astounding among Chinese consumers, as is their adoption of trends such as mobile payments. And despite many similarities, consumer behavior can vary significantly among the country’s 22 city clusters.

In short, our latest research suggests we are witnessing the modernization of the Chinese consumer, and that will only make the market more challenging for consumer-goods companies. But for those able to get it right, the rewards may be substantial. In this article, we’ll examine the evolving behavior of Chinese consumers through three lenses: how willing they are to spend, what they are buying, and where they are buying.

How willing they are to spend

When asked about their expectations regarding future income, 55 percent of consumers we interviewed were confident their income would increase significantly over the next five years—just two percentage points lower than in 2012. (By comparison, just 32 percent of consumers in the United States and 30 percent in the United Kingdom agreed with the same statement in 2011.)

That’s not to say that Chinese consumers are unaware of the deteriorating condition of the economy. A growing number are seeking to save and invest, and we found differences in consumer confidence widening at a regional level. While confidence about income growth during the next five years rose to 70 percent in the Xiamen–Fuzhou city cluster, for example, it decreased to as little as 35 percent in Liao Central.

What they are buying

We found that consumers are generally becoming more selective about their spending. They are allocating more of their income to lifestyle services and experiences—over half plan to spend more on leisure and entertainment (the 50 percent surge in box-office receipts in the past year is just one indicator of that trend). At the same time, spending on food and beverages for home consumption is stagnating or even declining.

Chinese consumers are also increasingly trading up from mass products to premium products: we found that 50 percent now seek the best and most expensive offering, a significant increase over previous years. It’s no surprise that the growth of premium segments is outpacing that of the mass and value segments, and foreign brands still hold a leadership position in that premium market. What’s more, a rising proportion of Chinese consumers focus on a few brands, and some are becoming loyal to single brands. The number of consumers willing to switch to a brand outside their “short list” dropped sharply. In apparel, for instance, the number of consumers willing to consider a brand they hadn’t before dropped from about 40 percent in 2012 to just below 30 percent in 2015.

Becoming part of the closed set of the few brands that consumers consider, or even the one brand that consumers prefer, is increasingly challenging. Fewer consumers are open to new brands, and promotions are becoming less effective at encouraging consumers to consider them.

With a few notable exceptions, such as Huawei’s growing share of the premium-smartphone market, Chinese brands have not gained much traction in many premium segments, such as skincare, cars, sports, and fashion. That contrasts starkly with the mass segment of the market, where local brands are winning market share from foreign incumbents by offering a much stronger product proposition.

Where they are buying

Although China is the world’s largest e-commerce market—generating revenue of about 4 trillion renminbi ($615 billion) last year, around the same as Europe and the United States combined—and consumers increasingly purchase online, physical stores remain important. Consumers engage with brands both online and offline, and satisfaction with physical stores remains higher than with online ones. But the gap is narrowing, especially as satisfaction with hypermarkets declines.

One trend that is helping maintain interest in physical stores is “retailtainment.” Two-thirds of Chinese consumers say that shopping is the best way to spend time with family, an increase of 21 percent compared with three years ago. Malls—which combine shopping, dining, and entertainment experiences the entire family can enjoy—have benefited most from this trend, at the expense of big-box retail outlets such as department stores and hypermarkets.

Consumers also reinforce family ties through travel: 74 percent of consumers say it helps them to better connect with family, and 45 percent of international trips were taken with family in 2015, compared with 39 percent in 2012. More than 70 million Chinese consumers traveled overseas in 2015, making 1.5 trips on average, and shopping is integral to this experience. Some 80 percent of consumers have made overseas purchases, and nearly 30 percent actually base their choice of a travel destination on shopping opportunities. Among international travelers, around half of their watch and handbag purchases are made overseas, while apparel and cosmetics are the most frequently purchased categories.

Overall, Chinese consumers are adopting new products, services, and retail experiences at rates unseen in developed markets. To take one example, mobile-payment penetration in China went from zero in 2011 to 25 percent of the population in 2015. At the same time, there are still differences in how Chinese consumers in various regions spend. While new highways, high-speed-rail links, and mobile Internet access have strengthened connectivity between neighboring clusters over the past few years, we found that differences across the country’s 22 geographic clusters1have grown even more pronounced. For instance, 35 percent of consumers in the Shanghai city cluster have purchased apparel online in the past six months, compared with just 4 percent of consumers in the Chengdu city cluster.

The Chinese consumer is evolving. Gone are the days of indiscriminate spending on products. The focus is shifting to prioritizing premium products and living a more balanced, healthy, and family-centric life. Understanding and responding to these changes in spending habits will be decisive in determining the companies that win or lose, whether international or domestic competitors. And while scale, speed, and simplicity proved advantageous in the past 15 to 20 years, the changing shape of Chinese consumption seems sure to topple some giants of the past and elevate new champions. Which will your company be?

Source: http://www.mckinsey.com/Industries/Retail/Our-Insights/Here-comes-the-modern-Chinese-consumer?cid=other-eml-alt-mip-mck-oth-1603

28/01/2016

Grossly Deceptive Plans (GDP) | The Economist

ON JANUARY 19th China declared that its gross domestic product had grown by 6.9% in 2015, accounting for inflation—the slowest rate in a quarter of a century.

It was neatly within the government’s target of “around 7%”, but many economists wondered whether the figure was accurate. Online chatter in China about dodgy GDP numbers was fuelled a week later by the arrest of the man who had announced the data: Wang Baoan, the head of the National Bureau of Statistics. The country’s anti-graft agency accused him of “serious disciplinary violations”, a euphemism for corruption. But beyond all the (justifiable) doubts about the figures lies another important question. That is: why does China have a GDP target at all?

It is the only large industrial country that sets one. Normally central banks declare specific goals for things like inflation or unemployment. The idea that a government should aim for a particular rate of output expansion, and steer the economy to achieve that, is unusual. In the case of China, which is trying to wean its economy off excessive reliance on GDP-boosting (but often wasteful and debt-fuelling) investment, it is risky. It is inconsistent with the government’s own oft-repeated mantra that it is the quality of growth that matters, not the quantity.

In the past, setting a target may not have made much difference. For all but three of the years between 1992 and 2015, China’s growth was above target, often by a big margin. A rare period when targets seemed to affect the way officials tried to manage the economy was from 2008 to 2009, when growth fell sharply (see chart). It would be hard to argue that targets themselves have been responsible for China’s overall (impressive) record of growth in recent decades.

Now, however, the economy is slowing. This is inevitable: double-digit growth is no longer achievable except at dangerous cost (total debt was nearly 250% of GDP in the third quarter of 2015). But the government is worried that the economy may slow too fast, and that this could cause a destabilising surge in unemployment. So it has been ramping up investment again, and goading local governments to do the same by setting a high growth target.

For a while there were signs that the leadership itself had doubts about the merits of GDP target-setting. In 2013 Xinhua, an official news agency, decried what it called the country’s “GDP obsession”. By the next year, 70 or so counties and cities had scrapped their targets. In 2015 Shanghai joined them, becoming the first big city to break with orthodoxy (each level of government sets its own GDP target, often higher than the national one). Liu Qiao of the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University says the central government ought to follow suit.

Last year there were hints that it might. The prime minister, Li Keqiang, said the government would not “defend [the target for 2015] to the death”. And in October, talking about the government’s work on a new five-year economic plan (which will run from 2016 to 2020), President Xi Jinping avoided mentioning a number. That raised expectations that targets might at least be downplayed, if not abandoned.

They have not been, however. An outline of the five-year plan, unveiled in November, contained the usual emphasis on growth. And Mr Xi appeared to change his tune, saying expansion must average at least 6.5% a year until 2020. Many economists believe that will require yet more debt-inducing stimulus. A GDP target for this year is all but certain to be announced, as usual, at the annual session of the legislature in March (when the five-year plan will also be adopted). It will probably be higher than 6%. Speculation that the government might set a target range in order to give itself more policymaking flexibility (as the IMF and the World Bank have urged) has ebbed. In December some national legislators complained that local governments were busting their debt ceilings because there was “still too much emphasis on GDP”.

So why is there still a target? The reasons are political. In a country so large, central leaders are always fearful of losing their grip on far-flung bureaucrats: setting GDP targets is one means by which they believe they can evaluate and control those lower down. Local officials are also judged by environmental standards, social policies and what the Communist Party calls “virtue”—that is, being uncorrupt and in tune with the party’s latest interpretation of Marxist doctrine. But GDP is usually the most important criterion, having the attraction of being (roughly) measurable.

Source: Grossly Deceptive Plans | The Economist

14/01/2016

Economists React: China’s December Trade Data May Mean Worst Is Over – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Better-than-expected export and import data in December suggest the beginning of a modest improvement in trade despite recent turmoil in Chinese financial markets, economists say, even as a weaker yuan helps exporters.

China’s exports in December were off 1.4% from a year earlier, a smaller decline than November’s 6.8% or the median 8% forecast of 15 economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal. Imports were down 7.6%, compared with November’s 8.7% and the 11% median forecast.

Following are excerpts from economists’ views on Wednesday’s trade data, edited for style and length:

The idea that China needs to devalue its currency to reflect a weakening export sector is not borne out by the 2015 trade figures, which show that China gained world-wide market share in a tough global trading environment. The past couple of months, we’ve seen exports surprise on the upside. Worries that something is going on in China behind the scenes, that real compelling economic fundamentals are pushing the yuan weaker, is inconsistent with what we’re seeing on the trade front.—Tim Condon, ING Group ING +0.96%

China’s December trade data was reassuring—indicating that, despite the turmoil on the stock and foreign-exchange markets, growth dynamics in the real economy are evolving more gradually and may actually be improving somewhat. The improvement in exports suggests that the global goods trade gained some momentum toward the end of 2015, with China helped by a weaker yuan. Headline December goods import data were down 7.6%, but import volumes have started to improve. We estimate import volumes were up 7.5% year on year in December, mainly due to better “normal imports” used in China’s own economy (rather than re-exported), implying a pickup in domestic demand momentum at the end of 2015.—Louis Kuijs, Oxford Economics

Better-than-expected trade data hint that the yuan depreciation in December—the currency fell 1.5% against the dollar—could have boosted external demand. For the year, China’s exports dropped by 2.8% and imports plunged by 14.1%. The underperformance of imports reflects sluggish demand for commodities as China moves toward a more consumption-driven growth model. It also highlights the deleveraging under way in China’s manufacturing sector because of the property slowdown. The mixed picture illustrated by China’s trade figures convinced us that growth will be under pressure. Also, China could steer further yuan depreciation at an appropriate pace and time to support economic growth and facilitate the deleveraging in many sectors plagued by overcapacity.—Zhou Hao, Commerzbank AG

China’s better-than-forecast trade figures may signal the beginning of a modest improvement as the yuan stabilizes against a weighted basket of currencies. That could translate into export growth of 5% to 7% and import growth of 1% to 2% this year. Demand may not be a big driver, but China is becoming more competitive with its exchange rate.—Ding Shuang, Standard Chartered STAN.LN +0.35%

China’s better-than-expected export data in December was mainly due to the world’s recovering appetite for exports from China, but its sustainability is still an open question. The devaluation of the yuan might have played a role in boosting exports, though it wasn’t the main driver. To what extent the yuan will influence exports this year is uncertain, given the central bank’s intervention in the foreign-exchange market. But January export figure should be relatively positive since 2015 provided a weak base for comparison.—Ma Xiaoping, HSBC HSBA.LN +0.49%

Source: Economists React: China’s December Trade Data May Mean Worst Is Over – China Real Time Report – WSJ

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