China’s economy faces a triple shock

Power cuts, the pandemic and the property slowdown are slowing China's economy down.

Can anything stop rising inflation? asks Daniel Moss on Bloomberg. How about a Chinese slowdown? The world’s second-biggest economy grew at a record 18.3% year-on-year in the first quarter of the year but has slowed sharply. GDP rose by an annual 4.9% in the third quarter, the slowest pace in a year and down from the 7.9% rate recorded between April and June, says Katie Silver for the BBC. Soaring commodity prices have seen many provinces impose electricity rationing, which is weighing on industries such as cement, steel and aluminium smelting.  

China’s benchmark CSI 300 stock index is down by 6.5% since the start of the year. A crackdown on debt in the property sector – highlighted by the woes of developer Evergrande – has also hit construction activity, says Martin Strydom in The Times. “New construction starts slumped in September for a sixth straight month, the longest series of monthly declines since 2015.” 

China’s slowdown has been “more pronounced than anticipated”, says Moss. Lower Chinese demand could cool the rally in many commodity prices. It won’t necessarily be deflationary, however: closed factories will reduce the global supply of essential goods. Factory-gate prices, a measure of the prices manufacturers charge wholesalers, grew at their “fastest pace since records began in 1996” last month, says Strydom. 

China has been contending with a “triple shock” from power cuts, the pandemic and the property slowdown, says The Economist. A Covid-19 “cluster that began in Nanjing in July, prompted strict, localised lockdowns [and] airlines were operating at less than half their full capacity in August”. Year-on-year growth could slow further “to 4% or below” in the final quarter of this year.

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