CHART: China’s economy growing fastest since 2013
In March Chinese leaders detailed the country’s 13th five-year plan running from 2016 – 2020 which doubles-down on a long-stated commitment to “double 2010 GDP by 2020”.
The 2020 GDP goal would require annual growth rates of 6.5% to go from a nominal $10 trillion last year to over $12 trillion in 2020. That’s the equivalent of adding an economy the size of Switzerland’s every year.
China’s official GDP data showed growth of 6.7% year-on-year in the third quarter, boosted by a raft of stimulus measures introduced by Beijing that has seen a number of metrics improve dramatically since the start of the year.
Manufacturing activity hit a more-than-two-year high in November, fixed asset investment and industrial output all improved while real estate statistics indicated stronger investment. Imports of commodities including iron ore and coal came close to or hit monthly records and bank lending is growing at a solid clip despite restrictions designed to cool China’s credit markets.
Skepticism about official Chinese growth figures abound – that 6.7% figure has been stable for the past three quarters and bang on Beijing’s official GDP growth targets.
Most analysts peg actual GDP expansion at a much lower clip.
Independent research house Capital Economics’ measure of the Chinese economy – the China Activity Proxy or CAP – uses a combination of weighted data including electricity usage, seaport cargoes, floor space under construction and passenger and freight traffic to gauge activity across a wide section of the economy.
According to Capital Economics research, China’s year-on-year GDP growth rate dropped below 4% in December last year (as metals, iron ore and coal prices hit multi-year lows) and stayed below 5% during the first half of 2016.
But since then growth has picked up markedly hitting 6.5% in November. That’s the fastest pace since 2013 using the Capital Economics gauge.
According to the report official GDP growth in Q4 is unlikely to be materially different with Capital Economics is forecasting 6.8%.
“That hasn’t been true since 2011,” says Mark Williams, chief China economist, but he adds a word of caution:
Stepping back, the turnaround in growth over the past few months has been almost as sharp as that in 2009. But lessons have been learned from the aftermath of that stimulus-driven rebound. Policy support is already being withdrawn. What’s more, we estimate that China is currently expanding faster than its sustainable rate.