China Overheating? Biggest Weekly Cash Drain in History; Questions Surface Over Chinese Growth Numbers

Courtesy of Mish.

In December I suggested the modest bounce in China PMI would not last. It didn’t. The allegedly sustainable recovery in China is already in question.

The HSBC Flash China Manufacturing PMI™ shows manufacturing conditions barely above contraction.

Key points

  • Flash China Manufacturing PMI™ at 50.4 (52.3 in January). 4-month low.
  • Flash China Manufacturing Output Index at 50.9 (53.1 in January). 4-month low

Commenting on the Flash China Manufacturing PMI survey, Hongbin Qu, Chief Economist, China & Co-Head of Asian Economic Research at HSBC said: “The Chinese economy is still on track for a gradual recovery. Despite the moderation of February’s flash PMI, the index recorded the fourth consecutive reading above the 50 critical line. The underlying strength of Chinese growth recovery remains intact, as indicated by the still expanding employment and the recent pick-up of credit growth.

Questions Surface Over Chinese Growth Numbers

Those expecting China to be in some sort of sustainable recovery with Europe in a major recession and the US in a big slowdown if not outright recession are a bit delusional.

Please consider China’s Premature Overheating.

China began this year with an off-the-charts explosion in credit issuance. Last week, it broke records again, this time for the amount of cash drained from its banking system. The record credit issuance of 2.5 trillion yuan ($400 billion) in January — comprising both bank lending and non-bank financial institutions’ credit — always looked as if it was verging on the reckless.

The surprise perhaps is that this reversal came so early. The central bank withdrew 910 billion yuan from the economy via open-market operations last week, its biggest weekly cash drain ever.

This action coincided with warnings from Beijing for local governments to keep a tight reign on property-market speculation, amid fears of bubbles reappearing. On Friday, the government further extended its existing battery of property taxes to try to take the heat out of the market. The new measures target non-residential property and buyers of second homes.

In recent weeks, the Chinese capital has literally ground to a halt due to smog worsened by traffic and factories. Nomura says in a new report that pollution has got so bad, it may force policy change on the government, which will inevitably reduce growth in the short term. An unusual appendix in the report was a nationwide map of Particulate Matter (PM) readings.

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