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China's Growth Sustainable???

China has led the way by asking its banks to loosen the lending taps, and that has been reflected in the broader economy. China is an important export market for most of the smaller Asian countries. China's stimulus plan is a huge kicker, and the country has begun to stockpile a lot of soft and hard commodities. The black spot is that the easy credit has seen outstanding balances on credit cards more than doubled in the most recent quarter. Can China continue on its merry ways to lead the way to stimulate the rest of the world out of the recession?

  • China's economy seems to have re-accelerated from the lows of Q4 2008 and Q1 2009 helped by significant government investment and credit extension. While exports continue to deteriorate, reducing the trade surplus, government investment has surged and consumption influenced by government investment is holding up, suggesting that that the Chinese economy may grow at a faster pace in Q2 and Q3 2009 than the 6% rate at the beginning of the year. However in the absence of new external demand and limitations on domestic demand, there is a risk of developing over capacities.
  • In April 2009, many private sector analysts began scaling up 2009 estimates to the 7-8+% range from 6-7% range following the investment and lending surge and suggestions that the Chinese economy might be bottoming out. Now forecasters like the world bank are also doing so, if more cautiously.
  • World Bank: very expansionary fiscal and monetary policies have kept the economy growing respectably with the country likely to experience a 7.2% growth rate for all of 2009. But China may not grow in the high double digits until the global economy recovers. Market based investment will lag, and despite resiliency, consumption will slow, meaning that the boost to growth may not carry through to 2010.
  • In Q1, China's real GDP growth slowed to 6.1% y/y, the slowest in more than a decade and the seventh consecutive quarter of deceleration. Growth slowed to 6.8% in Q4 2008 from 9% for 2008. Several indicators (investment, stabilizing Manufacturing sector, robust consumption) began to show improvement by March 2009, indicating that the growth may accelerate in Q2-Q4 09 from the very weak pace and near stall of end 2008/early 2009.
  • In Q1, Government stimulus boosted investment and consumption holding up despite a fall in real incomes. final consumption, investment and net exports contributed 4.3, 2.0, and -0.2 percentage points to GDP respectively.
  • Goldman: More aggressive policy stimulus and stronger domestic demand response than previously expected suggests a growth will be 8.3% (previous estimate 6%) in 2009 and 10.9% in 2010 (9%) policymakers will eventually normalize and shift away from aggressive policy loosening, when they are more assured of a stabilization in domestic unemployment and external demand, giving additional insurance to the growth trajectory.
  • The recent flood of credit-fuelled (and government-led) investment has staved off an economic collapse that might have sent unemployment surging and damaged the confidence in China's growth trajectory that is so important to its development prospects. However, it is a huge leap to go from this short-term success to declaring China to be out of trouble and back on the road to double-digit growth.
  • Morgan Stanley: On a seasonally adjusted basis, the economy experienced a 5% rebound in Q109, after the first qoq contraction (-0.5%) in almost eight years. The aggressive policy stimulus should bring about further recovery in H209, making China among the first to emerge from the global downturn. The recovery should be relatively ‘job-rich’ but ‘profit-deficient’, especially in H109, with those exposed to government-supported capex programs likely benefiting most.
  • BNP: In Q1, GDP rebounded as a result of the fiscal stimulus and the most expansionary monetary stance since 1997. Household demand for property and autos is rebounding while the credit surge is boosting fixed asset investment meaning China will achieve GDP growth of 7.7% in 2009.
  • Citi: After seasonal adjustment GDP growth actually rebounded to 5.3% annualized in Q1, compared to 0.9% growth in Q408. The aggressive expansion in credit and investment seem to bank on a substantial rebound in final demand, or run the risk of greatly increasing overcapacity.
  • HS: Given the prevailing external environment, it would still be a severe challenge for mainland China to achieve its 8% growth target this year and officials need to have exit strategies to prevent credit and money supply from expanding too rapidly to jeopardise future macro-economic stability.
  • Even with the stimulus, China’s overall economic growth is likely to decline to around 5% in 2009. Although the country could potentially sustain higher growth, the poor outlook for exports over the next two years severely limits any quick recovery.
  • ADB: Little evidence that China is rebalancing away from investment-led growth, but it is shifting investment sectors. Risk of entrenched inflation and overheating in some sectors

p/s photos: Zhang Xin Yu


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