Nouriel Roubini has been quiet for a few days, but you didn’t think he was getting bullish, did you? Of course not. In fact, now that a global systemic financial crisis appears to have been narrowly averted, he has turned his attention to the next land mine: China.
China, says Nouriel, is at risk of a hard landing (which, for China, would mean a slowdown of growth to 5%-6%). The cause? The US consumer, of course.
That recent uplift in global stock prices? A “sucker’s rally.” The recent economic news in the US? “Worse than awful.” Read on…
For the last few years the global economy has been running on two engines, the U.S. on the consumption side and China on the production side, both lifting the entire global economy. The U.S. has been the consumer of first and last resort spending more than its income and running large current account deficits while China (and other emerging market economies) has been the producer of first and last resort, spending less than its income and running ever larger current account surpluses.
For the last few months the first engine of global growth has effectively shut down as the latest batch of macro news from the U.S. are worse than awful: collapsing consumption and consumer confidence, plunging housing, collapsing auto sales, plunging durable goods spending (while also supply side indicators such as production, ISM and employment are also free falling). The U.S. is entering its worst consumer recession in decades both supply and demand data look worse than in the severe recessions of 1974-75 and 1980-82. And in due time this tsunami of awful macro news, together with ugly downside surprises to earnings will take another toll on equity valuations that are now temporarily lifted by another bear market sucker’s rally.
More worrisome there are now increasing signs that the other main engine of the global economy – China – is also stalling. Let us consider now in detail the evidence that China may be on its way to a hard landing…
The latest batch of macro data from China are mixed but all pointing towards a sharp deceleration of economic growth: official GDP data showing growth down to 9% from the 12% of a couple of years ago; sharply falling spending on consumer durables (autos); falling home sales and sharp fall in construction activity; leading indicators of the manufacturing sector (the Chinese PMI) showing a value of 44.6% (i.e. an outright contraction of manufacturing as a level below 50% indicates a contraction), its lowest level ever since its publication. 9 out of 11 PMI sub indices showed contraction – Output, New Orders, Input Prices, Purchases of Inputs, New Export Orders, Imports, Backlogs of Orders, Stocks of Major Inputs. Output index fell to 44.3 from 54.6 in September, while new orders dropped to 41.7 from 51.3, while the inventory index climbed to 51.4 from 50.5. The decline in total orders has been even stronger than in export orders, thus suggesting a weakening in both domestic and export demand. And the decline in construction activity is without doubt a major contributor to the recent weakness in industrial activity in China.
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See Also: More Bearish Than Roubini
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