China announced its official third quarter GDP growth figure as 6.9 percent yesterday, just a hair beneath the government's target of 7 percent. But is that a real figure, or have the Chinese books been cooked? There has been an awful lot of underlying data that suggests the latter.
Both exports and imports declined for China during the third quarter, and industrial production was weaker than expected. Factories have seen prices fall for 43 consecutive months, and fixed-asset investment decelerated in September. Electricity output is down 1.3 percent over the past year. All those signals point to a slowing economy.
So what is China's actual GDP growth? Many economists have begun paying more attention to these alternate growth measures, and most of them estimate that China's growth is currently somewhere between 4 percent and 5 percent.