The Big Ideas

'China’s economy springs back from pandemic hit with record growth'
'China’s economy springs back from pandemic hit with record growth'
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April 16, 2021
BIG IDEA | “The headline year-on-year data really doesn’t tell us the story of how the economy has performed in the first quarter . . . in fact that performance was a bit disappointing. The silver lining is that March was better than the first two months.”

‘China’s output leapt 18.3 per cent year on year in the first three months, the fastest rate since records began in the early 1990s.’

  • ‘The high rate was anticipated because in the same period last year China’s economy contracted for the first time in decades as the country went into lockdown.’
  • ‘On a quarter-on-quarter basis, the economy expanded just 0.6 per cent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, well below expectations.’

‘ “We are confident that the current recovery trend will continue throughout the year,” Liu Aihua, a spokesperson for the NBS, said at a briefing.’’

  • ‘But the NBS also sounded a note of caution: “We must be aware that the Covid-19 epidemic is still spreading globally and the international landscape is complicated with high uncertainties and instabilities.” ’
  • ‘Liu noted that manufacturing investment has not returned to its pre-pandemic level. “Factories are facing many difficulties in their operation.” ’

'Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics, said:’

  • ‘ “The headline year-on-year data really doesn’t tell us the story of how the economy has performed in the first quarter . . . in fact that performance was a bit disappointing. The silver lining is that March was better than the first two months.” ’

‘Eswar Prasad, a China finance expert at Cornell University, said that even after taking into account the “phantom effect” of the low-base comparison from last year, the first-quarter figure was “clear confirmation of the resilience and momentum of the Chinese economy”.’

  • ' “The recovery will give the government more room to wind down stimulative macroeconomic policies and intensify [its] focus on financial risks.” ’

‘China benefited from being the first major economy to emerge from lockdown, although the US is catching up rapidly, boosted by the Biden administration’s $1.9tn fiscal stimulus.’

  • ‘The US economy is on track to regain its pre-pandemic level of output in the first half of this year.’

‘In contrast, the eurozone is still grappling with rising coronavirus infections and national lockdowns which are expected to drag the bloc into a double-dip recession in the first three months of this year.’

  • ‘Its GDP is not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until mid-2022.’

‘The IMF last week forecast that by 2024, the US would be one of the few major economies to be bigger than it would have been if the pandemic had not taken place, based on earlier estimates — while it predicted China and Europe would both still be smaller.’