The Chinese stock market hit a four year high today at 3,020. This is up 53% since the middle of 2013 low and up 48% in the last six months. I guess this must mean the Chinese economy is operating on all cylinders. If you think so, you’d be wrong. Barron’s interviewed a no-nonsense woman who has lived, worked and analyzed China from within since 1985. Anne Stevenson-Yang has spent the bulk of her professional life there working as a journalist, magazine publisher, and software executive, with stints in between heading up the U.S. Information Technology office and the China operations of the U.S.-China Business Council. She’s now research director of J Capital, an outfit that works for foreign investors in China doing fundamental research on local companies and tracking macroeconomic developments.
This lady is about as blunt as you can get about Chinese fraud, lies, mal-investment, and data manipulation. The entire Chinese economic miracle is a fraud. The reforms are false. The leaders are corrupt and as evil as ever. The entire edifice is built upon a Himalayan mountain of bad debt.
The slave labor manufacturer for the world’s mal-investments since 2008 make Japan look like pikers.
China, for all its talk about economic reform, is in big trouble. The old model of relying on export growth and heavy investment to power the economy isn’t working anymore. Sure, the nation has been hugely successful over recent decades in providing its people with literacy, a decent life, basic health care, shelter, and safe cities. But starting in 2008, China sought to counter global recession with huge amounts of ill-advised investment in redundant industrial capacity and vanity infrastructure projects—you know, airports with no commercial flights, highways to nowhere, and stadiums with no teams. The country is now submerged by the tsunami of bad debt that begets further unhealthy credit growth to service this debt.
The BLS should take lessons from the Chinese government in data falsification. But, the American MSM dutifully reports the Chinese data as if it was real. Faux journalism at its finest.
People are crazy if they believe any government statistics, which, of course, are largely fabricated. In China, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle of physics holds sway, whereby the mere observation of economic numbers changes their behavior. For a time we started to look at numbers like electric-power production and freight traffic to get a line on actual economic growth because no one believed the gross- domestic-product figures. It didn’t take long for Beijing to figure this out and start doctoring those numbers, too.
Real numbers from the real economy and real companies reveal the truth about the Chinese economy. If revenues are falling, why is the Chinese stock market up 48% in the last six months? The same reason the U.S. stock market is up. Rampant speculation created by blind faith in central bankers and central banks buying stocks.
I’d be shocked if China is currently growing at a rate above, say, 4%, and any growth at all is coming from financial services, which ultimately depend on sustained growth in the rest of the economy. Think about it: Property sales are in decline, steel production is falling, commercial long-and short-haul vehicle sales are continuing to implode, and much of the growth in GDP is coming from huge rises in inventories across the economy. We track the 400 Chinese consumer companies listed on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets, and in the third quarter, their gross revenues fell 4% from a year ago. This is hardly a vibrant economy.