China's Scotch Indicator Is Signalling Disaster

The Scotch Whisky Association published its global figure for the first half of this year, and consumption is way down in China.

Exports to Singapore and China are down 46% according to the organisation. They declined 19.2% in the second half of 2013.

This lines up with the bad news we’ve been getting from China’s formal economic indicators. Earlier this month officials released the worst figures for industrial production since 2008. Retail, property, and a variety of other sectors of the economy also indicated a big slow down was in the works.

The government responded with “targeted easing,” not the full-scale stimulus we’re used to seeing when Chinese growth slows down.

That means industries from gambling — think: Macau — to mining are preparing to take a hit as Chinese demand weakens. The market is already feeling it.

“A major contribution to the negative start to the week comes from mining sector under pressure overnight in Australia with names like BHP Billiton (BLT) and Rio Tinto (RIO) down over 2% after a decline in commodity prices and iron ore hitting fresh 5-year low, and the smaller producers hit even harder — all hurt by concerns about Chinese growth,” wrote analyst Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets on Monday.

It’s not every day that the whisky industry, the mining industry, and fixed asset investment (which slowed to 16.5% growth from 17% growth) are all screaming the same thing.

David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: “We are confident that Scotch whisky will continue to grow in the long-term as markets stabilise and new ones, such as emerging economies across Africa, open up. However, it is clear that in the short-run that there are economic headwinds affecting exports.”

He continued: “The latest figures also act as a reminder that the success of Scotch whisky can’t be taken for granted.”

We couldn’t agree more.

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