China's economic policy adjustment messages get accepted by int'l investors
International confidence in China’s economic future obviously improved following the release of key statistics for its economic performance in the first quarter on Friday, as people outside China have come to accept China’s “new normal” of slower growth between 6.5 percent and 7 percent.
David Dollar, senior fellow at the John L. Thornton China Center, Brookings Institution, said Chinese authorities have “done something” on the macro level to stabilize the situation over the last couple of months.
“If you go back three months or so … there was a real worry around the world about a hard landing in China. There have been the missteps in the exchange market. There was the worry about an unruly devaluation,” he said.
“Chinese economic data is showing signs of stabilization, including recent PMI numbers, as well as the latest figures on industrial production and retail sales,” Suan Teck Kin, an economist with the United Overseas Bank in Singapore, was quoted by Reuters as saying.
“All this obsession with a Chinese hard-landing I think is a bit too much,” Suan said.
China’s gross domestic product grew by an annualized 6.7 percent in the first quarter, with March industrial output surprising at 6.8 percent.
Its exports grew by 11.5 percent in March, the first expansion since June, though a lower base last year and seasonal factors associated with the Chinese New Year may be some distorting factors.
Retail sales in the first quarter rose by 10.3 percent from a year before, up from 10.2 percent in the previous quarter.
“The latest data are strong enough to show that despite its prolonged slowdown, China remains a main engine of global growth,” the Associated Press reported.
The AFP also said that “green shoots (are) appearing” even though the quarterly growth has slowed.
Challenges remain as China tries to push through a transition from growth driven by investment and exports to growth led by consumption and the services sector.
Some of the observers voiced concerns over the rise in corporate debt while acknowledging the signs of recovery.
However, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in a report on Wednesday that China’s corporate debt risks are rising but still manageable.
The IMF report said risks are concentrated in five sectors such as real estate, manufacturing, retail and wholesale, mining and steel, where earnings relative to interest expense have fallen despite declining nominal interest rates.
It estimates that bank loans potentially at risk in China amount to almost 1.3 trillion U.S. dollars, which could translate into potential bank losses of 756 billion dollars.
“This number may seem large but it is manageable, given China’s bank and policy buffers and continued strong growth in the economy,” said Jose Vinals, director of the IMF’s monetary and capital markets department.
In its latest quarterly forecast released earlier this week, the IMF raised its China growth projections for both 2016 and 2017 by 0.2 percentage point, a bright spot amid sluggish global growth.
Economists and analysts agree that the Q1 growth, though slowest in seven years, is in line with market expectations.
Chen Fengying, world economy research fellow with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said people outside China have gradually come to accept the “new normal” of China as the authorities increased their communication efforts on the economic policies.
“The economists and investors outside China no longer expect 9 percent or faster growth,” she said. “It is a process of China’s messages of policy adjustments getting through to international investors.”
Gao Pan contributed to this report.