China delays release of GDP and other economic data

China, the world’s second-largest economy, announced without explanation on Monday that it would indefinitely postpone the release of economic data that was scheduled for Tuesday morning, including closely watched figures for economic growth from July to September, which were expected to show . Continued lackluster performance.

The delay by China’s National Bureau of Statistics, which analysts said was very unusual, comes as China’s ruling elite gathers in Beijing for a week. The National Conference twice a decade from the Communist Party. The authorities have Detailed measures have been taken To prevent any disruptions during the gathering, from halting nearly all travel to Beijing to ordering frequent Covid-19 tests across the country almost.

The delay in the report sparked speculation that the data may have been worse than officials expected. Western economists had expected China to report that the economy grew just over 3 percent in the third quarter compared to a year ago. That would be better than growing Only 0.4 percent In the second quarter, when the two-month epidemic lockdown in Shanghai severely reduced production in many industries.

But it would still be well below the target set by Beijing in March, aiming for “about 5.5 percent” growth this year.

Big countries rarely put off releasing a single economic statistic out of fear of hurting financial confidence, not to mention the vast array of market-moving data that China’s National Bureau of Statistics has now delayed. In addition to postponing the release of third-quarter GDP data, the government agency postponed the September data release for retail sales, industrial production, fixed asset investment and other categories.

“I have never before encountered a situation where an entire set of statistical reporting has just been delayed, in nearly half a century of releases of surveillance data — not even in times of epidemics and conflict,” said George Magnus, a former chief economist at UBS who is now an associate at the UBS China Center. Oxford.

Zhao Qinxin, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, took an optimistic tone about China’s economy during a press conference Monday morning at the party congress media center.

“Judging from the current situation, the economy rebounded significantly in the third quarter – from a global perspective, China’s economic performance is still excellent,” he said.

After trading closed on Chinese stock exchanges on Monday afternoon, the National Bureau of Statistics canceled its quarterly press conference, which had been scheduled for Tuesday morning, and updated its online calendar of data releases to show several categories as “overdue.”

Another agency, the General Administration of Customs, separately on Friday failed to follow its previously issued schedule to release export and import statistics for September. The release of these numbers has also been postponed indefinitely.

Chinese officials are trying to refute growing criticism from foreign economists and multinational companies that China is now putting politics and ideology ahead of economic performance. On Monday morning, Mr. Zhao said that due to the government’s epidemic policies and focus on economic development, “China’s economic stability will be strengthened and improved.”

As China has grown into the world’s largest producer and major trading power, and home to some of the world’s largest banks, it has struggled repeatedly with how the Communist Party-dominated political structure communicates with financial markets.

For example, China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China, announced with almost no explanation in August 2015 that it was Devaluation of the country’s currency, the renminbi, by about 2 percent. The move was a technical measure associated with the introduction of the renminbi into the IMF’s system of reserve currencies.

But the sudden move contributed significantly to a panic in financial markets in China and abroad that lasted until the following winter, driving down stock prices in China and causing investors to move hundreds of billions of dollars out of the country.

In recent years, the National Bureau of Statistics has quietly discontinued hundreds of data series on narrow topics, such as the production of certain types of coal or raw silk. Foreign economists used to rely on certain reports to double-check the validity and reasonableness of broader government data, such as overall economic growth statistics.

“Analysis of China has always been a difficult task, but the way you can get things right is to look at as much information and data as possible and try to fit as many pieces of the puzzle together as possible into a coherent picture,” said Diana Chueleva, chief economist at Enodo Economics, a company Consultant in London. “This has become progressively more difficult over the past few years as China has become much less open.”

Leave a Comment