Pete Wargent blogspot

Co-founder & CEO of AllenWargent property buyer's agents, offices in Brisbane (Riverside) & Sydney (Martin Place), and CEO of WargentAdvisory (providing subscription analysis, reports & services to institutional clients).

4 x finance/investment author - 'Get a Financial Grip: a simple plan for financial freedom’ (2012) rated Top 10 finance books by Money Magazine & Dymocks.

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Wednesday, 21 January 2015

China Economy Beats Estimates (+7.3 percent)

China grows at 7.3 percent

A day or two late on this, but China's GDP came in at 7.3 percent in 2014, slightly beating expectations of 7.3 percent.

It really is just uncanny how often China's GDP offers up a "slight beat"!


As the above chart shows the rate of growth in China's economy is clearly trending south in recent years.

And slower growth in Q4 certainly implies that the rate of growth is likely to be significantly lower again in 2015.

Compounding growth

Of course, that's not a surprise in one sense.

As economies grow in size, the rate of growth naturally slows.

It has happened in Australia and elsewhere.

Due to the nature of compound growth, in Chinese yuan terms the growth in output in 2014 at 7.3 percent growth is the same as the growth in output in 2007 when the rate of growth was above 14 percent.

A great deal of time and energy is devoted to whether China's economy grows at 7.2 percent or 7.3 percent, but World Bank data shows that total China GDP in US dollar terms has increased from US$150 billion in 1978 to well over US$10 trillion in 2014, a truly mind-blowing expansion in output.


Of particular interest to Australia is what is happening to the rate of construction and thus demand for iron ore.

And more pertinently, whether the data reported from China has any integrity at all.

China data for sceptics

Trade data has continually implied that the numbers reported are fudged.

Indeed, how can any large economy estimate its GDP so accurately and consistently within a matter of weeks of the end of the calendar year?

As an auditor I was always taught to "sense check" data, and smarter people than what I am tend to look at a number of other metrics which may suggest a somewhat different picture.


I had a look last year here at how else we might look to estimate China's GDP, for those of a sceptical outlook.

Other data beats

For the record, industrial production beat expectations of 7.4 percent growth with a significantly stronger 7.9 percent reading.

Meanwhile retail sales beat expectations of 11.7 percent growth with an 11.9 percent print, which bodes well for a rebalancing towards a consumption-based economy.

Fixed asset investment grew by 15.7 percent, slightly below expectations.

So, the official data was good, and the cumulative growth enormous, even if the headline rate of growth was the slowest in 24 years.

However, there are plenty of indications that many of China's real estate markets have flipped into reverse gear, and growth in the forthcoming year appears likely to be slower once again.