A columnist from The Washington Post once opined that China “produces an astonishing number of astonishing numbers.” Last week’s GDP announcement, which helped push markets higher, may fall into that category.
China’s official statistics agency reported the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 6.7 percent during the first quarter of 2016. That didn’t come as a big surprise because it’s smack-dab-in-the-middle of the official Chinese government target of 6.5 to 7.0 percent GDP growth. The target was set last year when the government adopted its most recent five-year plan.
Not everyone thinks China’s official statistics are on the money. The Conference Board (TCB), an independent global research association, has found:
“…an upward bias in the previously published GDP growth series of, on average, 2.6 percentage points per year since the start of Deng Xiaoping’s so-called “reform era” that began in 1978, this percentage has not been constant over time. In fact, our alternative series indicates much larger volatility in the year-on-year estimates (sometimes even showing faster growth rates than the official estimates), suggesting that the impacts of external and internal shocks on the Chinese economy are much more pronounced than the official statistics convey.”
In other words, China’s growth may not be as steadfast and unwavering as the country’s government would have us believe.
TCB estimated China’s GDP grew by 3.7 percent during 2015, which was significantly lower than the Chinese government’s 6.9 percent growth estimate. In fact, TCB expects the Chinese economy to grow by 3.7 percent in 2016, too. It’s not 6.5 percent, but it’s solid growth.
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* “The Astounding Consistency of China’s Growth”