Category Archive: China

Main Author Michael Pettis
Michael Pettis
Wall Street veteran, merchant banker, equities trader, economist, finance professor, entrepreneur — iconoclast — Michael Pettis is a unique individual living and working in China, at the heart of the world’s most exciting and vibrant economy. Having learned firsthand how markets operate during his years on Wall Street, Michael has taken his knowledge and insight and applied them to the Asian financial markets as an expert analyst, commentator, and participant. His work and research focuses on monetary policy, trade policy, and the development of the banking and financial markets in China.

China: Inflation? Not Even Reflation

The conventional interpretation of “reflation” in the second half of 2016 was that it was simply the opening act, the first step in the long-awaiting global recovery. That is what reflation technically means as distinct from recovery; something falls off, and to get back on track first there has to be acceleration to make up that lost difference.

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China: CNY, Not Imports

In February 2013, the Chinese Golden Week fell late in the calendar. The year before, 2012, New Year was January 23rd, meaning that the entire Spring festival holiday was taken with the month of January. The following year, China’s New Year was placed on February 10, with the Golden Week taking up the entire middle month of February.

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China: PMIs suggest moderation in momentum in Q1

China’s official manufacturing purchasing manager index (PMI) came in at 51.3 in January, down slightly from December (51.6). The Markit PMI (also known as the Caixin PMI) stayed at 51.5, the same as in the previous month (Chart 1). The official non - manufacturing PMI rose slightly to 55.0 in January from 44.8 the previous month.

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China: 2018 GDP forecast revised up

The Chinese economy ended 2017 on a strong note. In Q4 2017, China’s GDP amounted to Rmb23.4 trillion (about USD3.7 trillion), rising 1.6% over the previous quarter and 6.8% year-over-year (y-o-y) in real terms. Full-year GDP came in at Rmb82.7 trillion (about USD12.9 trillion), growing by 6.9% in real terms and beating the consensus forecast as well as our own estimate (both at 6.8%).

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Central Bank Transparency, Or Doing Deliberate Dollar Deals With The Devil

The advent of open and transparent central banks is a relatively new one. For most of their history, these quasi-government institutions operated in secret and they liked it that way. As late as October 1993, for example, Alan Greenspan was testifying before Congress intentionally trying to cloud the issue as to whether verbatim transcripts of FOMC meetings actually existed.

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The Blatant Dishonesty of the ‘Boom’

Why do humans tend to behave in herds? It’s a fundamental question that only recently have researchers been able to better understand. On the one hand, it doesn’t take an advanced degree in some neurological science to see the basis behind it; survival for our ancestors often meant getting along with the crowd. There are times when that very trait applies still.

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China: FX reserves rise again

According to the Chinese State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), China’s FX reserves amounted to USD3.14 trillion at end - December 2017, up USD20.7 billion from the previous month. This marks the 11th consecutive monthly increase in Chinese FX reserves since February 2017.

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The Dea(r)th of Economic Momentum

For the fourth quarter as a whole, Chinese exports rose by just less than 10% year-over-year. That’s the highest quarterly rate in more than three years, up from 6.3% and 6.0% in Q2 2017 and Q3, respectively. That acceleration is, predictably, being celebrated as a meaningful leap in global economic fortunes. Instead, it highlights China’s grand predicament, one that country just cannot seem to escape.

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Inflation Correlations and China’s Brief, Disappointing Porcine Nightmare

Two years ago, China was gripped by what was described as an epic pig problem. For most Chinese people, pork is a main staple so rapidly rising pig prices could have presented a serious challenge to an economy already at that time besieged by massive negative forces. It was another headache officials in that country really didn’t need.

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Industrial production: The Chinese Appear To Be Rushed

While the Western world was off for Christmas and New Year’s, the Chinese appeared to have taken advantage of what was a pretty clear buildup of “dollars” in Hong Kong. Going back to early November, HKD had resumed its downward trend indicative of (strained) funding moving again in that direction (if it was more normal funding, HKD wouldn’t move let alone as much as it has). China’s currency, however, was curiously restrained during that...

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Chinese demand leads the Swiss watch industry’s recovery

The most important driver of the Swiss watch industry’s recovery has been the revival of the mainland China market. After years of impressive growth, the Swiss watch industry faced difficult conditions in 2015 and 2016, when exports declined by 3.2% and 9.9% respectively in value terms.

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China Exports and Industrial Production: Revisiting Once More The True Worst Case

As weird as it may seem at first, the primary economic problem right now is that the global economy looks like it is growing again. There is no doubt that it continues on an upturn, but the mere fact that whatever economic statistic has a positive sign in front of it ends up being classified as some variant of strong. That’s how this works in mainstream analysis, this absence of any sort of gradation where if it’s negative it’s bad (though in 2015...

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Three Years Ago QE, Last Year It Was China, Now It’s Taxes

China’s National Bureau of Statistics reported last week that the official manufacturing PMI for that country rose from 51.6 in October to 51.8 in November. Since “analysts” were expecting 51.4 (Reuters poll of Economists) it was taken as a positive sign. The same was largely true for the official non-manufacturing PMI, rising like its counterpart here from 54.3 the month prior to 54.8 last month.

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Globally Synchronized Downside Risks

Oil prices were riding high after several weeks of steady, significant gains. It’s never really clear what it is that might actually move markets in the short run, whether for crude it was Saudi Arabia’s escalating activities or other geopolitical concerns. Behind those, the idea of “globally synchronized growth” that is supposedly occurring for the first time since before the Great “Recession” while it may not have pushed oil investors to buy...

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Maybe Hong Kong Matters To Someone In Particular

Hong Kong stock trading opened deep in the red last night, the Hang Seng share index falling by as much as 1.6% before rallying. We’ve seen this behavior before, notably in 2015 and early 2016. Hong Kong is supposed to be an island of stability amidst stalwart attempts near the city to mimic its results if not its methods.

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Bonds And Soft Chinese Data

Back in June, China’s federal bond yield curve inverted. Ahead of mid-year bank checks, short-term govvies sold off as longer bonds continued to be bought. It was for some a rotation, for others a reflection of money rates threatening to spiral out of control. On June 19, for example, the 6-month federal security yielded 3.87% compared to a yield of 3.525% for the 10-year.

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An Unexpected (And Rotten) Branch of the Maestro’s Legacy

The most significant part of China’s 19th Party Congress ended in the usual anticlimactic fashion. These events are for show, not debate. Like any good trial lawyer will tell you, you never ask a question in court that you don’t already know the answer to. For China’s Communists, that meant nominating Xi Jinping’s name to be written into the Communist constitution with the votes already tallied.

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Global Inflation Continues To Underwhelm

Chinese producer prices accelerated in September 2017, while consumer price increases slowed. The National Bureau of Statistics reported this weekend that China’s PPI was up 6.9% year-over-year, a quicker pace than the 6.3% estimated for August and a 5.5% rate in July. Earlier in the year producer prices were driven mostly by 2016’s oil rebound, along with those in the rest of the global economy, but in recent months there has been more influence...

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China Exports/Imports: Enforcing A Global Speed Limit

Chinese imports rose 18.7% in September 2017 year-over-year. That’s up from 13.5% growth in August. While near-20% expansion sounds good if not exhilarating, it isn’t materially different from 13.5% or 8% for that matter. In addition, Chinese trade statistics tend to vary month to month.

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Noisy PMI’s In China

In the US our economic data for a few months at least will be on shaky ground due to the lingering economic impacts of severe hurricanes. In China, the potential for irregularity is perhaps as great, though it has nothing to do with the weather. In a little over a week, Communist Party officials will gather for their 19th Party Congress.

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