This morning has seen a does of economic news from the epicentre of the current pandemic and hence crisis which is China. This is keenly awaited as we see how the economy responds to the pandemic. Sadly we seem already to be charging into what might be described as Fake News so let us take a look.
BEIJING, March 31 (Xinhua) — The purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for China’s manufacturing sector firmed up to 52 in March from 35.7 in February, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Tuesday.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below reflects contraction.
The rebound came as the country’s arduous efforts in coordinating epidemic control and economic and social development have generally filtered through, NBS senior statistician Zhao Qinghe said.
Okay now first we need to remind ourselves that this is a sentiment indicator not an actual output number although tucked away we do get some clearer guidance.
With positive changes taking place in domestic epidemic control and prevention, 96.6 percent of China’s large and medium-sized enterprises have resumed production, up 17.7 percentage points from one month ago, NBS survey showed.
A sub-index for production, rallied 26.3 points from one month earlier to 54.1, hinting at reviving production activities.
Below we seem some sectors which we would expect to pick-up and in fact are probably flat-out. Let’s face it demand for some protective equipment may never have been as high as this.
Meanwhile, the PMI for high-tech manufacturing, equipment manufacturing and consumer goods all stood in expansion zone, signaling quickened restoration in the sectors, according to Zhao.
The twitter feed of Xinhua News also continues with the line that things are in some cases back to normal.
As the outbreak of the novel #coronavirus has been basically contained in China, the construction of Xiongan, often billed as China’s “city of the future,” has resumed in an orderly manner.
I am sure some of you have already spotted the difference between “basically contained” and contained already. But the theme is of an economic recovery.
China’s March composite PMI rose significantly to 53, up 24.1 points from February.
This has been reported as being quite a rebound as the two tweet below highlight.
Wow! Impressive V-shape recovery in #China’s Manufacturing #PMI. Up to 52 from 35.7. ( @jsblokland)
So far, data seems to support China’s prospects of a V-shaped economic recovery…. Strong PMI rebound.
The second tweet is from the editor of The Spectator Fraser Nelson.
A V-shaped recovery means that you are very quickly back to where you started. This was what was promised for Greece back in the day which is of course a troubling harbinger. After all the Greek economy promptly collapsed.
The National Bureau of Statistics
It published an explainer which tells a rather different story.
The purchasing manager index is a chain index, which reflects the economic changes in this month compared with the previous month. The magnitude of the change has a great relationship with the base of the previous month.
There was more.
the manufacturing PMI, non-manufacturing business activity index, and the comprehensive PMI output index fell sharply in February, and the base rose from the previous month. These data indicate that the production and operation status of enterprises in March has significantly changed from February.
This gets reinforced here.
Taking the production index as an example, according to the answer of the enterprise purchasing manager to the question “The production volume of the main products of this month has changed from last month”,
So as you can see the situation is likely to be as follows the reading of 52 is an improvement on the 35.7 of February. so for example might be 38 or 39 if we try to impose some sort of absolute moniker in this. Accordingly there has been an improvement but V-shaped?
The mire sanguine view I have expressed is much more in line with this from the South China Morning Post today.
China’s economic situation could get worse before it gets better, amid a second wave of demand shock that is set to hit both domestic and foreign trade, a Chinese government official has warned.Addressing a press conference in Beijing on Monday, the day after President Xi Jinping toured businesses in Zhejiang province, vice-minister of industry and information technology Xin Guobin delivered a candid and downbeat assessment of the economy, in a subtle break from recent optimistic rhetoric about economic recovery.
What is behind his thinking?
“With the further spread of the international epidemic, China’s foreign trade situation may further deteriorate,” Xin said. “Overseas and domestic demand are both slumping, having a significant impact on some export-oriented companies. These companies might face a struggle to survive.”
We also get a clue as to what “barely contained” in terms of the Corona Virus means.
After bringing the domestic epidemic under control, China gave the green light earlier this month for over 600 cinemas, thousands of tourism attractions and half the country’s restaurants to reopen.
But in sudden U-turn last Friday, the National Film Bureau ordered all cinemas to shut down again, without explaining why or when they might hope to reopen.