Shock! Horror!! China Output Growth Slows.

Wednesday, Aug 11 2010 by
Shock Horror China Output Growth Slows

Whilst monitoring my screens, I couldn't help noticing that global markets were rather weak today. Besides gloomy forecasts from the Fed and downward revision of BoE growth numbers for the UK, I wondered what might be causing this weakness....

I came across this Bloomberg article:

China Output Growth Weakens; Inflation Accelerates

Scary headline, huh? Now lets have a look what the text actually says:

China’s industrial output rose the least in 11 months, retail sales growth eased and new loans climbed less than estimated, adding to signs that a slowdown in the world’s third-biggest economy is deepening.

Production rose 13.4 percent in July from a year earlier, the statistics bureau said in Beijing today. Inflation quickened to 3.3 percent, the fastest in 21 months, boosted by a low year-earlier base for comparison and rising food costs...

[my bold]

[sarcasm] OMG growth of ONLY 13.4%!!! I'd better sell all my commodity-reelated investments immediately! With growth falling off a cliff like that demand will collapse! [/sarcasm]

Comments by Rio Tinto's Tom Albanese later in the article make a little more sense to me:

Tom Albanese, the chief executive of Rio Tinto Group, the world’s third-biggest mining company, said Aug. 5 that economic growth of between 8 percent and 9 percent would be more sustainable for China, limiting bubble risks.


Now let's see what babies have been thrown out with bathwater today...


Filed Under: China, Commodities, Market Outlook,


The author may hold shares in this company, all opinions are his own and you should check any statements that appear factual and not rely on them before making an investment decision. The author is NOT a qualified analyst nor authorised to give investment advice. Whilst the author is a director of ShareSoc, all views expressed are entirely his own and not necessarily those of ShareSoc.

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Rio Tinto plc is a mining and metals company. The Company's business is finding, mining and processing mineral resources. The Company's segments include Iron Ore, Aluminium, Copper & Diamonds, Energy & Minerals and Other Operations. The Company operates an iron ore business, supplying the global seaborne iron ore trade. Its Iron Ore product operations are located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The Aluminium business includes bauxite mines, alumina refineries and aluminum smelters. Its bauxite mines are located in Australia, Brazil and Guinea. The Copper & Diamonds segment has managed operations in Australia, Canada, Mongolia and the United States, and non-managed operations in Chile and Indonesia. The Energy & Minerals segment consists of mining, refining and marketing operations in over 10 countries, across six sectors: borates, coal, iron ore concentrate and pellets, salt, titanium dioxide and uranium. more »

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8 Posts on this Thread show/hide all

marben100 17th Aug '10 1 of 8

I observe today that China continues to reduce its holding of US treasuries:

ISTM that reducing China's exposure to the US$ may be a precursor to allowing the Yuan to rise (so that doing so doesn't have too large an impact on the value of China's $ holdings). Allowing Yuan appreciation wuold counteract inflation, lowering the local cost of imported raw materials. I'd consider that a very positive move overall (if worrying for other US$ holders), which would help in rebalancing the global economy. It would be very interesting to know what China has switched that cash into.

With a "middle class" population larger than that of the US, and with car sales & energy consumption already having overtaken those of the US, I really can't see that nominal figures that show the Chinese economy still only being a fraction of the "size" of that of the US can be a fair representation of reality.

For those searching for bubbles, the most obvious one to me appears to be US treasuries. With a massively indebted state, how can a 10-year interest rate of just 2.7% be right? Moreover, once this realisation strikes the market, a downward spiral for bonds could be triggered, as investors demand higher rates to compensate for inevitable inflation to come, and those higher rates, in turn, force the Fed into more "money printing" to avoid growth being crushed by an increased cost of finance, thus stoking the inflationary fires. Leveraged hedge funds buying treasuries could also add to the coming selloff.


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StrollingMolby 17th Aug '10 2 of 8

ISTM that reducing China's exposure to the US$ may be a precursor to allowing the Yuan to rise (so that doing so doesn't have too large an impact on the value of China's $ holdings).  It would be very interesting to know what China has switched that cash into.

Gold, if this slow-fuse strategy is to be believed:


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djpreston 17th Aug '10 3 of 8

In reply to StrollingMolby, post #2

Ah, somewhat similar to this old film....

Fund Management: European Wealth
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marben100 17th Aug '10 4 of 8

Thing is, it doesn't need any whacky conspirancy theories. You only have to consider what's in China's own best interests and the economic reality of a populous & industrious country with considerable resources of its own, that appears to be dragging itself up by its bootstraps. Less dependency on the "West" and more self-reliance would seem sensible... but economic destruction doesn't really serve anyone's interest. A "controlled adjustment", i.e. moving towards equalisation of living standards betwen China & the West, would be the ideal outcome from everyone's POV - but very hard to achieve. Continuing trade with the West remains desirable.

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djpreston 17th Aug '10 5 of 8

In reply to marben100, post #4

Oh indeed Mark - I agree completely. Thats why my whole investment theory long term is based around this central theme.

its in China's interests to manage the process carefully and slowly. Lettig it happen too quickly will just spook the horses and leave many trampled in the stampede.

OT(ish) but the increasing wages in China at the moment seem somewhat of a double edged sword. VBery good for increasing the domestic demand angle but negative obviously for margins for the exporters. However, the impact on the exporters is quite interesting since many companies, having invested hugely in setting up their plants in China wont be in a mad rush to close down those operations and move to yet another lower cost base.

Fund Management: European Wealth
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marben100 18th Aug '10 6 of 8

More evidence of the direction the PRC is taking:

China will allow foreign central banks and overseas lenders substantially to increase investment in its domestic interbank bond market, in a move aimed at encouraging internationalisation of the Chinese currency.

The People’s Bank of China, the central bank, said on Tuesday that it had launched a pilot project to allow more foreign access to its largely closed domestic interbank bond market to “encourage cross-border renminbi trade settlement” and “broaden investment channels for renminbi to flow back [to China]”...

Not sure whether it will catch on yet, but ISTM that the PRC is challenging the role of the US$ as the sole reserve currency (which is stated explicitly further on in the article). Little is veiled now about the PRC's intentions - but they have to remove more restrictions if their wishes are to gain traction.


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marben100 18th Aug '10 7 of 8

In reply to StrollingMolby, post #2

Looks like it's a bit more sophisticated than that, SM, according to this:


China more than doubled its direct holdings of South Korean treasury bonds in recent months as it turned to regional markets to invest some of its $2,450bn in foreign exchange reserves in currencies other than the US dollar and the euro.

Chinese holdings of the treasury bonds stood at Won3,990bn ($3.4bn) by the end of the June from Won1,870bn at the end of last year, according to the South Korean Financial Supervisory Service, the country’s financial watchdog...

Sounds like sensible diversification to me.... or, for the conspiracists, China would like to have the entire rest of the world owing it money. A much smarter way to rule the world than military force though, of course, you need that too as backup, in case your debtors think about defaulting. :~)

Speaking of the "big stick", I also observe this (from yesterday):

China’s reluctance to come clean about the scope of its military activities increases the risk of misunderstandings in a highly charged part of the world, the Pentagon has argued.

In its annual report to Congress on China’s military and security developments, the US defence department also notes a steady increase in Beijing’s military capabilities, including hundreds of missiles in the Taiwan strait.

While Beijing announced in March a military budget of $78.6bn (£50.2bn) – the latest in 20 years of annual increases – the Pentagon estimates China’s total military-related spending for 2009 at more than $150bn...

I'll bet US$150bn spent by the Chinese buys a heck of a lot more "bang for their buck" (literally!) than when spent by the DoD.

Hey ho :-/


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marben100 24th Aug '10 8 of 8

...and whilst it's all doom-and-gloom today for the "developed" markets, here's what's happening elsewhere:


Japan’s economic snuffles contrast with the health of emerging Asia, where rapid growth has re-established itself since the global economic crisis.

Thailand, thought to be one of the region’s weaker economies because of its political problems, surprised economists this week by reporting year on year growth in gross domestic product of 9.1 per cent for the second quarter, in spite of more than two months of highly-disruptive anti-government demonstrations.

That followed comparable figures of 8.9 per cent in Malaysia, 12.5 per cent in Taiwan, 6.2 per cent in Indonesia, 7.2 per cent in South Korea and an extraordinary 17.9 per cent in Singapore. China had earlier reported growth of 10.9 per cent. India has not reported but a survey of economists by the central bank forecast growth of 8.7 per cent. The unknown is the extent to which these blistering growth rates are sustainable. Although South Korea and Thailand performed better than expected, growth slowed slightly in Malaysia and more sharply in China, where it was down from nearly 12 per cent in the first quarter.

Some of this was deliberate – as in China, where Beijing is deliberately slowing the runaway economy – or officially sanctioned, as in Malaysia, where the central bank is walking a policy tightrope between growth and inflationary pressures.

Clearly, the population and economies of those countries are not experiencing anything remotely resembling a recession.

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