Douglas Flint, HSBC chairman, should know a thing or two about the Chinese economy.
For a start, he’s on the economic advisory boards for both the mayor of Beijing and mayor of Shanghai. And his bank was founded in China in 1865.
So when he says “the data suggests that China will stage a modest recovery in the coming quarters, with full-year growth of around 7%,” it makes you wonder what data he’s looking at.
As noted earlier by Jim Edwards, many analysts think the real figure is around 4-5%.
This is because objective data for the demand for the raw materials of growth, like cement, metal and electricity are all heading the same direction: down. Meanwhile the country is dealing with its stock market losing the GDP of Britain in less than a month and a huge corporate debt pile.
So why the optimism? The Chinese government will pull its two emergency levers — interest rates and state spending — and effectively buy the growth it needs, says Flint.
“It has the room to cut interest rates to boost domestic demand. It can cut reserve ratio requirements to increase bank lending capacity. And it can deliver strong fiscal support for growth,” Flint said in a speech given at Cass Business School in London on Thursday.
Over the course of the evening, Flint was asked three interesting questions and answered one of them.
A question on what he thought of the Chinese government’s attempts to prop up falling markets — which Goldman Sachs Chief Lloyd Blankfein slammed on Wednesday — was waived away by the Q&A moderator as not being relevant to the discussion.
Another on HSBC’s review of where to base its holding company headquarters — London or Hong Kong — was answered with “the process is ongoing.”
Lastly, as he was leaving, the Glasgow-educated Flint was asked who would win the rugby, with the Rugby World Cup kicking off in London this week.
“Scotland,” Flint said, backing a team currently at 100-1 on Paddy Power.
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