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How China's Economy Grew in 2021 Despite a Property Slump – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — China’s economy grew at a strong pace of 8.1% in 2021, a number seemingly at odds with headlines about a crashing property market and a crackdown on big technology companies. 

Here are five charts, based on the latest official data this week, which give a deeper insight into how the world’s second-largest economy changed over the past year.

Property Hit

Output in the real-estate sector shrank in both the third and fourth quarters last year, the longest period of decline since 2008. Construction also fell, as Beijing’s efforts to squeeze financing to property companies dragged down the floor area of new buildings started by more than 14% in 2021 from the previous year — the biggest slump in six years. 

That was a significant drag on growth. China’s property construction, once the production of building materials is added, is estimated to account for between 15-25% of GDP. 

The upside of the housing downturn was that the economy likely became less carbon intensive, as the sector is a major driver of greenhouse gas emissions. Steel production, which climbed to more than 1 billion tons for the first time in 2020, declined slightly last year. China’s carbon dioxide emissions in the first 11 months of 2021 rose 6.2% year-on-year, below the pace of GDP growth, according to estimates from researchers at Carbon Monitor. 

Coronavirus and Consumption

In 2020, Beijing relied on construction to revive the economy, while virus controls caused consumer spending to decline. Those growth drivers flipped around last year, with the property slowdown hitting investment and overall control of the virus allowing for a rebound in consumer spending. 

More government spending on services, which are classified as consumption, also meant the latter became the biggest driver of growth last year. 

Net exports was another unusually strong factor in driving the economy, with the record trade surplus last year accounting for about a fifth of the country’s economic expansion.

That raises questions about what will be the growth driver in 2021: the spread of the omicron variant threatens to stall consumer spending, while export growth is also expected to fade. Beijing has said it wants infrastructure investment to fill much of that gap, although it hasn’t increased the amount of bonds government will sell to help pay for that.

Manufacturing Revival

With the threat of trade embargoes of high-tech goods by the U.S. and allies, Beijing has been putting more emphasis on manufacturing. In the new five-year economic plan released last year it vowed to keep that sector’s share of the economy constant and avoid the de-industrialization seen in some other countries. 

Official data show that effort is bearing fruit, with manufacturing’s share of output rising for a second consecutive year, following about a decade of decline.

The trend was supported by the relocation of low-end manufacturing from other parts of Asia as those countries struggled with the pandemic. But more technology intensive sectors also grew rapidly: the production of new energy vehicles grew more than 145%, while the production of microchips rose 33%, according to official data.

Private Enthusiasm

Billions of dollars in market value was lost from some of China’s largest privately-owned companies last year as Beijing took heavy-handed measures to rein in tech giants and private tutoring companies. 

But looking at industrial manufacturing, private companies had a good year: their output grew 10.2%, faster than the average for the sector. The pace of investment by private companies was more than twice their state peers’ in 2021, suggesting optimism about business prospects. Most economists see that as a positive trend for the economy.

Common Prosperity

President Xi Jinping’s highest-profile policy initiative in 2021 was the new emphasis on “common prosperity” to try and curb inequality. China didn’t make much headway on that last year, according to official data. 

A widely used metric of inequality, the gap between the top 20% and bottom 20% of earners expanded slightly, remaining at about twice the level seen in the European Union. The gap between rural and urban incomes narrowed only slightly.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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German economy dodges recession as war, pandemic weigh – Financial Post

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BERLIN — The German economy grew slightly in the first quarter from the previous one, data showed, with higher investments offset by the twin impacts of war in Ukraine and COVID-19 that experts predicted would weigh more heavily in the three months to June.

Europe’s largest economy grew an adjusted 0.2% quarter on quarter and 3.8% on the year, the Federal Statistics Office said on Wednesday. A Reuters poll had forecast 0.2% and 3.7%, respectively.

The reading meant that Germany skirted a recession, often defined as two quarters in a row of quarter-on-quarter contraction, after gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 0.3% at the end of 2021.

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While household and government spending remained mostly at the same level as in the previous quarter and exports were down at the start of the year, investments grew.

Construction investments, boosted by mild weather, were up 4.6% from the previous quarter, despite price increases, and machinery and equipment investments rose 2.5%.

German business morale rose unexpectedly in May as its economy showed resilience, according to an Ifo institute survey published this week that found no observable signs of a recession.

However, there is no upswing in sight either, and Sebastian Dullien, director of the Macroeconomic Policy Institute (IMK), predicted the effect of the war and pandemic-linked restrictions in China – Germany’s biggest trading partner last year, according to official data – would be much greater in the second quarter.

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ING economist Carsten Brzeski said he was sticking with his baseline scenario of a slight GDP contraction in the second quarter after Wednesday’s reading.

“The build-up of inventories and weak consumption in the first quarter, as well as very weak consumer confidence, clearly dampen the optimism that traditional leading indicators are currently conveying,” he said.

A consumer sentiment index by the GfK institute inched up slightly heading into June from an all-time low in May, with household spending burdened by inflation.

The government forecasts economic growth of 2.2% in 2022. (Reporting by Miranda Murray and Rene Wagner; Editing by Paul Carrel and John Stonestreet)

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5 reasons why the G20 needs a sustainable blue economy – World Economic Forum

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  • Ocean-based climate solutions should be a critical part of the G20’s COVID-19 recovery plans.
  • “The blue economy” can create jobs, spur economic growth, mitigate the impacts of climate change and help meet the food needs of a growing global population.
  • From sustainable fisheries to maritime renewable energies, there are five crucial areas where the G20 would benefit from investing in the ocean.

The G20 has vowed to rebuild the global economy in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and to fight climate change by investing in sustainable development. Yet one of the most powerful tools available to achieve these goals is largely missing from national economic recovery plans: ocean-based climate solutions.

The ocean has tremendous potential to spur economic growth, create jobs and mitigate some of the most severe climate impacts if we protect it and use its resources sustainably. This is often referred to as “the blue economy”.

For instance, it is estimated the world’s wetlands alone provide $47 trillion worth of ecological services annually, services such as coastal flood defences, carbon sequestration and breeding grounds for commercial fish, and support at least 1 billion jobs. But climate change, habitat destruction and plastic pollution – to name just a few problems – threaten to undermine their ecological integrity and destroy a remarkably effective buffer against some of the most severe climate change impacts.

A similar story is playing out on the ocean’s coral reefs and in our global fisheries. So-called “blue” food (food from the ocean and other aquatic sources) offers immense potential to help meet the food needs of a growing population in a way that is nutritious, sustainable, equitable and affordable. To do so successfully requires a concerted effort from the global community to ensure that fishing is sustainable.

The G20, which comprises 45% of the world’s coastline and 21% of its exclusive economic zones, has a special obligation to protect marine ecosystems and is well-positioned to deploy ocean-based climate solutions as the world continues its post-pandemic recovery.

Creating a blue economy

There are five crucial areas where the G20 would benefit from investments in ocean-based climate action to create a blue economy:

1. Maritime renewable energy sources, such as offshore wind, floating solar arrays and wave and tidal power, hold enormous promise to build energy independence and help countries meet their emissions reduction commitments under the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

2. We must decarbonize global shipping. If this industrial sector were a country, it would be the world’s eighth-largest in terms of carbon emissions. The good news is that emerging technologies can vastly reduce emissions from vessels and port facilities. The international community needs to set new standards to ensure best practices are implemented evenly around the world.

Our ocean covers 70% of the world’s surface and accounts for 80% of the planet’s biodiversity. We can’t have a healthy future without a healthy ocean – but it’s more vulnerable than ever because of climate change and pollution.

Tackling the grave threats to our ocean means working with leaders across sectors, from business to government to academia.

The World Economic Forum, in collaboration with the World Resources Institute, convenes the Friends of Ocean Action, a coalition of leaders working together to protect the seas. From a programme with the Indonesian government to cut plastic waste entering the sea to a global plan to track illegal fishing, the Friends are pushing for new solutions.

Climate change is an inextricable part of the threat to our oceans, with rising temperatures and acidification disrupting fragile ecosystems. The Forum runs a number of initiatives to support the shift to a low-carbon economy, including hosting the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, who have cut emissions in their companies by 9%.

Is your organization interested in working with the World Economic Forum? Find out more here.

3. Coastal wetlands and ecosystems – such as salt marshes, seagrass meadows, coral reefs and mangrove forests – need urgent protection in order to maintain their critical environmental services. It is estimated that these ecosystems sequester as much as five times the amount of carbon as terrestrial forests per unit area while shielding coastal populations from increasingly powerful storms and sea-level rise.

4. Investing in sustainable fisheries and, in particular, aquaculture will create well-paid jobs and help promote food security and economic fairness, especially in developing countries.

5. Sustainable and regenerative tourism can form a critical building block in ensuring a lasting economic recovery for coastal nations in a way that supports the ocean and nature – and the countless people who depend on them.

A 2021 report by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy found that ocean-based climate and nature-based solutions such as these could collectively reduce around 4 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually by 2030 and more than 11 billion tonnes by 2050 – equivalent to closing all the world’s coal-fired power plants for a year.

"lazy", :class=>"", :alt=>"Mangrove Conservation and Restoration: Protecting Indonesia’s “Climate Guardians”"}” use_picture=”true”>Mangrove Conservation and Restoration: Protecting Indonesia’s “Climate Guardians”

As the G20 president, Indonesia must work to restore mangroves and wetlands

Image: World Bank

Even modest investments in these solutions to create a sustainable blue economy would go a long way toward achieving UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 (life below water), including gender equity and fair access to the economic benefits of the world’s marine resources.

As this year’s G20 president and host of the group’s next leaders’ summit in November, Indonesia must lead by example, making major investments in marine and coastal ecosystem governance, promoting equal economic access, reducing marine debris, and working to restore and conserve mangrove and other wetlands.

Indonesia, Australia and all other G20 countries must expand these efforts and increase collaboration, to further strengthen and implement a robust and sustainable global blue economy that benefits everyone.

General (Ret.) Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan is Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment for Indonesia, which is this year’s G20 President and host of the group’s 17th Heads of State and Government Summit in November.

Dr Andrew Forrest AO is Founder and Chair of the Minderoo Foundation, Australia, and a Member of Friends of Ocean Action at the World Economic Forum.

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Mexico's Economy Rebounded in First Quarter on US Demand – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — Mexico’s economic growth was in line with expectations for the first three months of 2022, a positive sign for a country that narrowly avoided falling into recession late last year.

Gross domestic product grew 1% in the first quarter from the previous three-month period, above the 0.9% preliminary reading released in April, according to final data published by Mexico’s statistics institute Wednesday. Analysts in a Bloomberg survey had estimated 1% quarter-on-quarter growth.

On an annual basis, GDP expanded 1.8% in the January-March period, compared to the 1.6% flash reading reported last month. The manufacturing and services sectors led the recovery, as exports to the US, Mexico’s largest trading partner, continued to be a boon for Latin America’s second-largest economy, especially once past the late January peak of the highly infectious omicron variant.  

“It would be desirable for us to grow more, but it’s not bad growth,” said Janneth Quiroz Zamora, vice president of economic research at Monex Casa de Bolsa. “There was an impact of Omicron, but it wasn’t as strong or as pronounced as was expected.”

While doling out aid to farmers, dropping tariffs and kicking in for subsides against rising fuel and energy prices, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been hesitant to emulate Latin America’s other big economies by taking steps to spur the economy. His government’s attempts to woo companies from abroad with the appeal that they’ll have shorter supply chains and be closer to US consumers has seen limited results so far.

Looking ahead, gathering headwinds to growth abound. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has already had an alarming impact on food and energy prices in Mexico and exacerbated snarls in disrupted global supply-chains, which impact the country disproportionately as it’s one of the world’s largest exporters. Economic factors in the US also stand to impact Mexico’s performance.

“There was some forward momentum heading into Q2,” said Nikhil Sanghani, a Latin America economist at Capital Economics. “Growth will be sluggish though as activity cools in the US and high inflation and tighter monetary policy weigh on domestic demand.”

Forecasts 

Assessing the mounting challenges, the International Monetary Fund in April lowered its 2022 GDP forecast for Mexico to 2%, down from 2.8% in January, and half its forecast of 4% made in October 2021. Economists polled by Citibanamex earlier this month were even less upbeat still, with a 2022 GDP forecast of 1.8%, only marginally better than the 1.73% estimate in the central bank’s most recent survey of economists.

Since the IMF’s last forecast, however, the US Federal Reserve raised its key rate for a second meeting and vowed to keep hiking until officials see “clear and convincing” cooling in inflation, raising the specter of recession in the world’s largest economy and a fall-off in demand for Mexico’s exports. 

At the same time, persistent inflation at home has Mexico’s central bank engaged in an aggressive tightening cycle that’s taken the key rate up to 7% from 4% last June, with a possible terminal rate of 10%, by the reckoning of Deputy Governor Jonathan Heath.

Read More: Banxico’s Heath Sees Additional 200-300 Basis Point Rate Hikes

(Updates with analyst comments starting in seventh paragraph.)

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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