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China’s Economy Slows As It Tries to Diffuse Trade War With U.S.A.

The impact on China’s economy from the Sino-U.S. trade frictions are not apparent yet, Mao cautioned, adding that the nation will face more “external” uncertainties in 2019.

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China, Economic Growth
A woman cleans the window at a Aston Martin luxury car dealership in Beijing, Dec. 12, 2018. Auto sales have fallen sharply in China. VOA

China’s November retail sales grew at their weakest pace since 2003 and industrial output rose the least in nearly three years as domestic demand softened further, underlining rising risks to the economy as China works to defuse a trade dispute with the United States.

The world’s second-largest economy has been loosing momentum in recent quarters as a multi-year government campaign to curb shadow lending put increasing financial strains on companies in a blow to production and investment.

The slowdown in Chinese industries has started to weigh on consumer sentiment this year, tapping the brakes on retail sales. Big-ticket items have been the first to be hit, with auto sales declining since May.

Pace of retail sales slows

Retail sales rose 8.1 percent in November from a year earlier, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed Friday, below expectations for an 8.8 percent rise and the slowest since May 2003. In October, sales increased 8.6 percent. Auto sales fell a sharp 10.0 percent from a year earlier.

 

China
People try garments at a retail and wholesale clothing mall in Beijing, July 16, 2018. China’s economic growth slowed in the quarter ending in June, adding to challenges for Beijing amid a mounting tariff battle with Washington. VOA

 

The slump was in line with data released by China’s top auto industry association, which showed sales dived 14 percent in November, the steepest drop in nearly seven years.

The stresses on broad activity have been compounded by a sharp escalation in China’s trade dispute with the United States, which has threatened to fracture global supply chains, chill investment, exports and growth.

Pace of industrial output slows

Industrial output rose 5.4 percent in November, missing analysts’ estimates and matching the rate of growth seen in January-February 2016. Factory output had been expected to grow 5.9 percent, unchanged from October’s pace.

Over the weekend, China reported far weaker than expected November exports and imports, reflecting slower global demand and waning domestic factory activity as profit margins narrow.

With economic growth at its weakest since the global financial crisis, Chinese policymakers are ramping up spending, pushing banks to increase lending and cutting taxes to shore up businesses and ward off a more damaging slump.

USA, China, Trade War, economy
Plastic bags of fentanyl are displayed at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection area at the International Mail Facility at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. VOA

The weaker November industrial output and retail sales growth numbers showed that downward pressure on the economy is increasing, said Mao Shengyong, spokesman at the statistics bureau.

Still on track to hit growth target

But China is on track to hit its 2018 economic growth target of around 6.5 percent, Mao told reporters.

“On balance, the latest data show an economy that is under pressure on both the external and domestic front, with policy efforts to shore up growth still falling short,” Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economists at Capital Economics, wrote in a note.

A temporary 90-day trade war truce agreed by the United States and China early this month may have removed some of the immediate pressure on the economy.

Also Read: The Escalating Trade War Between China And U.S. Calls A Truce

The impact on China’s economy from the Sino-U.S. trade frictions are not apparent yet, Mao cautioned, adding that the nation will face more “external” uncertainties in 2019.

Indeed, even in the unlikely event the world’s top two economies reach a durable resolution in their dispute, ebbing domestic demand, mounting household debt and a cooling real estate sector point to a further slowdown in growth next year. (VOA)

Next Story

Liquidity Stance Moved to Positive by RBI

Money creation to pick up pace

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monetary policy
A further implication of this is that domestic net government bond supply between October and March is largely agnostic to whether the government decides to do a foreign currency sovereign bond issue or not. Pixabay

The focus of monetary policy is now conclusively on ensuring better transmission. Towards this, for the first time in recent history the RBI has consciously moved liquidity stance to positive. Indeed, the Governor has lately referred to the Rs 1-1.5 lakh crore positive system liquidity as a comfort factor and facilitator for banks.

It thus seems reasonable to infer, in the absence of an official framework on liquidity ‘targets’, that the RBI will want to ensure sustained liquidity surpluses of this magnitude going forward as well.

The micro aspects:
As per our estimates, the so-called ‘core’ system liquidity (total banking liquidity minus government balances) is around Rs 65,000 crore as on early August. Assuming currency in circulation (CIC) seasonality of last year and superimposing a nominal growth rate to this, the system will lose around Rs 2,20,000 crore from here to March 2020.

Adding back a higher RBI dividend and some balance of payment accretions, we are largely left with zero core liquidity by end of the financial year. However given the RBI’s current liquidity preference, we would assume they would want core liquidity to be at least be in surplus by a similar magnitude as today. This means that one should reasonably expect further open market operation (OMO) bond purchases from the RBI of at least Rs 65,000-75,000 crore between now and end of the financial year.

RBI
Adding back a higher RBI dividend and some balance of payment accretions, we are largely left with zero core liquidity by end of the financial year. Pixabay

A further implication of this is that domestic net government bond supply between October and March is largely agnostic to whether the government decides to do a foreign currency sovereign bond issue or not. This is assuming that say $10 billion raised by government from offshore sovereign bonds would have been entirely converted by RBI into rupee liquidity. Thus the need for OMOs would have fallen to that extent.

Refreshing a table we had done in an earlier note, the Rs 70,000 crore assumed for the sovereign bond issue may just end up getting replaced as RBI OMO should the bond issue not happen.

While on the subject, one has to comment on the conceptual fallacy in the criticism often levied towards RBI’s OMOs as being monetisation of government deficit. Assuming an unwillingness to cut Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR), the only two other tools for policy driven liquidity creation is purchase of forex or bonds. Long term repos are no solution since this is ‘borrowed’ and not permanent liquidity.

Given that purchase of forex is a function of flows that the RBI doesn’t directly influence, it has to resort to purchase of bonds for discretionary enhancements in core liquidity. Now, if this were being done much beyond the requirements of liquidity creation for the explicit purpose of supporting the bond issuance program or was systematically tied to the quantum of such program or didn’t display two-way directionality, then one could have legitimately argued for backdoor monetisation.

However, there is no evidence of this as well. Thus, any impact from OMOs has to be treated as largely an unavoidable cost of policy implementation just as other tools affect other market variables.

RBI
Governor has lately referred to the Rs 1-1.5 lakh crore positive system liquidity as a comfort factor and facilitator for banks. Pixabay

The macro aspects:
As can be seen, after the disruption from the global financial crisis (GFC) had subsided, the ratio of broad money (M3) as proportion of quarterly GDP had largely settled in a range. This broke lower post demonetisation, but hasn’t reverted still to its previous range. This is despite the well acknowledged growth slowdown that has now been underway for some time.

Also Read: Yamuna Flowing Above Danger Mark in Delhi

After largely tracking nominal GDP growth rates between 2012 and 2015, M3 growth had started to fall below GDP growth from early 2016, even before demonetisation. It is only very recently that M3 growth has been catching back with nominal GDP.

It can be argued that a necessary ask from monetary policy in response to the broad-based slowdown is for a higher rate of money supply growth than what has been in the recent few years. Indeed, that seems to have been the case also in the ‘golden’ growth period of 2005 – 2008, where M3 growth was much above nominal GDP growth. Assuming no changes to the money multiplier, this implies a higher pace of expansion in RBI’s balance sheet, including through more aggressive purchases of domestic bonds. (IANS)