Saturday, December 13, 2008

Chinese economy

There is increasing concern in Australia over the health of the Chinese economy and the impact this will have here. The collapse in commodity prices seems to suggest rough times ahead in Australia.

Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens this week suggested that the striking economic fact of the past few months was not the expected downturn in the US. It was that "China's economy has slowed much more quickly than anyone had forecast".

China reports many of its key indicators in ways that obscure what has actually happened most recently. Stevens said the Reserve Bank's analysis indicated that Chinese industrial production went backwards over the four months to October. He was "not sure that many economic forecasters have fully appreciated this yet". "There is every chance that the rate of growth of China's (gross domestic product) is currently noticeably below the 8 per cent pace that is embodied in various forecasts for 2009," he said.

Stevens did not spell out what "noticeably below" meant but the word is that this could be as low as 4 per cent. That's a very big deal for a mega-economy that, until only months ago, was supposed to be marching ahead at a double-digit pace but which already had been clubbed by a home-grown property bust.

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