【英语中国】中国年初增长放缓超预期 Data underscore depth of China slowdown

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所属分类:双语中国

2014-3-15 08:33

小艾摘要: It has become something of a routine for the Chinese economy: a sluggish start to the year fuels market concerns before more supportive policies from Beijing put growth back on track by the year’s en ...
Data underscore depth of China slowdown
It has become something of a routine for the Chinese economy: a sluggish start to the year fuels market concerns before more supportive policies from Beijing put growth back on track by the year’s end.

The first half of this routine, which played out in both 2012 and 2013, is once again in full swing. Data published yesterday showed that just about every part of the Chinese economy, from factory floors to shopping malls and building sites, had a dreary start to 2014. Commodities that are closely tied to Chinese growth such as copper and iron ore have come under heavy selling pressure.

The question that will determine the fate of the Chinese economy over the rest of this year and beyond is whether the second half of the routine – a shift to more stimulative policy – will also be repeated. With China’s leadership duo of President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang pledging to press ahead with deep structural reforms after their first full year in office, the answer is more uncertain than in the past.

“We have always viewed the new leaders as less pro-growth, but such a sharp slowdown is probably still more than they can stomach,” said Wei Yao, an analyst with Société Générale.

The depth of China’s downturn at the start of this year has surprised analysts. Yesterday’s data were the first comprehensive picture of China’s economy in 2014 (January and February numbers are published together to smooth out distortions caused by the timing of the lunar new year).

Industrial output slowed to 8.6 per cent year on year in the first two months of 2014, down from 9.7 per cent in December and missing forecasts of 9.5 per cent. It was the lowest reading for industrial output, which closely tracks overall economic growth, since August 2009.

Property sales, which in the past have served as a leading indicator for Chinese commodity demand, were exceptionally weak. They fell 3.7 per cent year on year, down from last year’s increase of 26.3 per cent. Fixed-asset investment and retail sales also dropped.

The slowdown in China is in large part a product of the government’s own efforts to contain financial risks after a surge in debt levels over the past five years.

In the second half of 2013, the central bank drained cash from the economy to drive up funding costs and also clamped down on “shadow banks”. Mr Xi has also railed against corruption and lavish spending by officials, a campaign that has taken a toll on consumption more broadly.

In China’s annual ersatz parliament, which concluded yesterday, the government kept its headline target for 2014 unchanged from 2013 at “about 7.5 per cent” growth.

But in contrast with previous years, officials have emphasised the flexibility of the target. This has led some analysts to conclude the government will stick to its more hawkish line.

近年中国经济出现了一个固定模式:开局不利加剧市场担忧,随后中国政府出台支持力度较大的政策,在年底前使增长回到正轨。

该模式的前半段(2012年和2013年都是如此)再一次淋漓尽致地呈现出来。昨日公布的数据显示,从工厂车间到购物中心和建筑工地,2014年初中国经济几乎所有领域都表现欠佳。铜、铁矿石等与中国增长紧密相关的大宗商品已遭遇巨大抛售压力。

决定当前至今年末乃至未来中国经济命运的问题将是,该模式的下半段(即转向刺激力度更大的政策)是否也将重演?由于中国最高领导层的两位核心人物——国家主席习近平和总理李克强在任职满一年后承诺推进深层结构改革,这个问题的答案比过去更不确定了。

“我们一直认为这两位新领导人将减少对增长的注重,但当前增速放缓幅度之大,很可能仍大大超过他们所能承受的程度。”法国兴业银行(Société Générale)分析师姚伟说。

今年初中国增长放缓幅度出乎分析师们意料之外。昨日公布的数据勾勒出了2014年中国经济的第一幅全景图(1、2月数据同时发布是为了消除春节日期引起的数据扭曲)。

2014年1-2月份,工业产出同比增幅放慢至8.6%,低于去年12月9.7%的增幅,也不及预期的9.5%。这是自2009年8月以来最低的工业产出增幅。工业产出增幅与总体经济增长密切相关。

房地产销售(以往一直是中国大宗商品需求的一个先行指标)异常疲软,商品房销售额同比下降3.7%,远低于去年26.3%的增幅。固定资产投资与社会消费品零售总额增幅也都有所下降。

增长放缓的主要原因在于,在过去5年债务水平猛增之后,中国政府主动发力抑制金融风险。

2013年下半年,中国央行从经济中抽走现金以推高融资成本,同时也着力打击“影子银行”。习近平还发起了一场严打官员贪污腐败与铺张浪费的运动,在更广范围内抑制了消费增长。

在昨日闭幕的人大会议上,中国政府将2014年增长率定为“7.5%左右”,与2013年相比保持不变。

但与前些年对比鲜明的是,官员们强调了增长目标的灵活性。这让一些分析师得出结论:中国政府仍将坚持其比较鹰派的立场。

译者/邢嵬

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