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The IMF’s Delusions of Grandeur for China

July 8th, 2010 Michael McDonough

As everyone is aware—excluding possibly the IMF— the Chinese government has begun tapping the brakes on the country’s economic engine to prevent overheating and curtail inflationary fears.  With this in mind, the IMF surprised quite a few people yesterday increasing their 2010 growth forecast for China to 10.5% y/y from 10.0% in April; well above the current Bloomberg consensus forecast of 10.1%, which I believe holds more downside than upside risk.  Even more surprising was a downward revision to its 2011 forecast to 9.6% from 9.9%, which is likely also too optimistic, especially compared to the 9.25% Bloomberg consensus forecast.  The IMF seems to be underestimating the impact of government restrictions in the country’s real estate sector, the effect of European austerity on the country’s exports, and various other domestic lending restrictions.  Highlighting the downside risk facing the Chinese economy both this year and next, the government’s chief statistician was recently quoted as saying, “In a complex and changing world economic environment, domestic economic conditions are getting more uncertain and complex.”  The lesson here is don’t be surprised to see some disappointing numbers from China over the months ahead.  Keep your eye on the country’s weakening Purchasing Manager Indices, for clues toward future growth.

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