Policy outlook, new forecasts, property tax

Ahead of the publication of our quarterly China Economics Outlook next week, we consider how Evergrande's woes, power cuts and supply shortages have shifted prospects for the economy. Our answer: surprisingly little, but perhaps only because only our expectations for 2022 were already fairly gloomy. There has been growing talk this week that the People’s Bank won’t lower policy rates in the coming months. We’re not convinced.
Mark Williams Chief Asia Economist
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China Data Response

China Caixin Manufacturing PMI (Nov.)

The Caixin manufacturing index published today slipped under 50 last month on the back of softer domestic demand. This contrasts with the official survey released yesterday. Taken together, the surveys still suggest that industrial output rebounded in November as power shortages abated. And they also point to easing factory-gate price pressures. Drop-In: Why is Asia sitting out the global inflation surge? 09:00 GMT/17:00 HKT, Thursday 2nd December https://event.on24.com/wcc/r/3546145/A9D34EF592141BEFCAC819ADB40359D5?partnerref=report

1 December 2021

China Data Response

China Official PMIs (Nov.)

The official PMIs suggest that industrial activity rebounded this month thanks to easing disruptions from power shortages while a renewed virus flare-up held back the recovery in services. And while we know little about its transmissibility and severity, the new Omicron variant could hold back a further economic recovery. On a more positive note, the surveys point to easing price pressures.

30 November 2021

China Chart Book

Omicron tests China’s zero-COVID strategy

The global spread of a more transmissible COVID variant is a particular challenge for a country trying to remain COVID-free. But after nearly two years of success suppressing infections domestically, the bar to changing course before better medical treatments or vaccines are available is high. A study published last week by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that if China were to adopt the pandemic control measures recently in place in several Western countries, it would soon be facing several hundred thousand new cases per day and 10-20,000 severe cases. These estimates were deliberately conservative, made on the assumption that natural and vaccine-derived immunity is as high in China as in the comparator countries. The actual health cost, the authors argue, would almost certainly be higher. Given these concerns, if Omicron proves harder to contain than Delta, we would expect officials to tighten containment measures in response. Economically, that would lead to further intermittent disruption to domestic activity, particularly services, and to global supply chains.

29 November 2021

More from Mark Williams

China Economics Weekly

Power cuts and inflation, zero-COVID hobbling tourism

The coming week may shine a light on the global impact of China’s power shortages. There are reports of them triggering sharp falls in shipping costs. The producer price data on Thursday will show whether they are yet affecting the prices of consumer durables. Meanwhile, the National Day holiday was a disappointing one for many in the tourism sector. There’s unlikely to be any major improvement as long as China’s goal remains zero-COVID.

8 October 2021

China Economics Update

Where might markets be wrong about Evergrande?

If Evergrande were to cause a financial or economic shock it would either be because policymakers failed to contain financial contagion or because the company’s collapse precipitated a much bigger decline in construction activity than most investors currently expect. The latter is probably the bigger risk and hinges on whether the company’s demise triggers a substantial drop in property sales.

22 September 2021

China Economics Update

Property crunch will be followed by lasting decline

The root of Evergrande’s troubles – and those of other highly-leveraged developers – is that residential property demand in China is entering an era of sustained decline. Relaxation of regulatory controls on the sector wouldn’t change this fundamental constraint. Construction, a key engine of China’s growth and commodity demand, will slow substantially over the next few years, whether or not the economy escapes the current crunch unscathed.

15 September 2021
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