Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ritholtz on "China’s Faux GDP Data"

From The Big Picture:

Back in October, I laughed off the latest China GDP data as utterly fabricated.

As it turns out, I was not the only one. China expert Gordon G. Chang (author of The Coming Collapse of China) is more than skeptical — he has the data to question much of China’s growth miracle.

Spoiler alert: Its been wildly exaggerated:

“Beijing, in the 1990s, ordered factories to churn out goods in periods of low demand, and there are indications that officials are resorting to this tactic now. While optimistic analysts point to astounding car sales–up 70.5% in July, 94.7% in August and 83.6% in September–there are reports that central government officials have ordered state enterprises to buy fleets of vehicles and that these businesses are storing them in parking lots across the country. These stories are as yet unconfirmed, but they are consistent with statistics showing that gasoline sales have been flat this year–up only 6.4% in August, for instance, and sliding since then from all indications. So here’s another question: At a time when economic activity is supposedly rising at a quick pace, how can large increases in passenger vehicle sales not be accompanied by corresponding surges in fuel usage? (emhasis added)