Thursday, January 22, 2009
The Chinese Devil Wears Prada: Why 0% Growth is the New Size 6.8%
Nouriel Roubini Jan 22, 2009 The Chinese came out today with their 6.8% estimate of Q4 2008 growth. China publishes its quarterly GDP figure on a year over year basis, differently from the U.S. and most other countries that publish their GDP growth figure on a quarter on quarter annualized seasonally adjusted (SAAR) basis. When growth is slowing down sharply the Chinese way to measure GDP is highly misleading as quarter on quarter growth may be negative while the year over year figure is positive and high because of the momentum of the previous quarters’ positive growth. Indeed if one were to convert the 6.8% y-o-y figure in the more standard quarter over quarter annualized figure Chinese growth in Q4 would be close to zero if not negative. Other data confirm that China was in a borderline recession in Q4 and that it may be in an outright recession in Q1: production of electricity plunged 7.9% in y-o-y basis; the Chinese PMI has been below 50 and close to 40 for five months now. And with manufacturing being about 40% of GDP , manufacturing is certainly in a sharp recession (negative growth) and the overall economy may be close to a recession So the 6.8% growth was actually a 0% growth – or possibly negative growth – in Q4; and the Q1 figures look even worse. So China is in a recession regardless of what the highly massaged official numbers claim.