Monday, September 21, 2009

Stimulus Watch: China stimulus effect declining

Commodities are the key sign for watching the effect of the stimulus program in China. Across the board, signs are starting to show that the largest stimulus program (as a percentage of GDP) is already starting to wane in effect. In the comments, let me know what other factors you are watching to track China's stimulus progress through the system.

(1) Oil consumption

Even though China recently became the #1 consumer of automobiles, oil consumption peaked in July and has been declining. "August seems to have brought a reality check for refiners in China," said Vandana Hari, Asia news director at Platts. "Domestic fuel demand has clearly been lagging their high processing rates, and storage space is finite."

(2) Copper demand

The large state sponsored infrastructure projects drove tremendous demand for copper and semi finished products. There were even reports of pig farmers stockpiling the metal as a speculative investment. But there is cracks in this demand too... "Traders say the market was worried that China, the world'slargest consumer of copper, may have overdone the stock building,which boosted prices in the first half of this year. Chinese copper and semi-fabricated imports fell 20 percent in August from July at just over 325,000 tonnes, and off 30 percent
from a record 476,000 tonnes in June."

(3) Iron Ore

Even iron ore, like copper, linked to China's massive development projects. "Cash prices for iron ore delivered to China from India have fallen 26 percent to $82 a ton since August, according to Metal Bulletin prices for the week ended Sept. 4. Iron ore from Australia has fallen 28 percent since Aug. 13 to $76.1 a ton yesterday, according to the Steel Index. Iron ore inventories at China’s major ports reached 76.5 million tons for the week ended Sept. 4, the highest level this year, according to data provided by Beijing Antaike Information Development Co."

(4) Lending

"The drop in new bank lending -- to an average of 383 billion yuan ($56 billion) in July and August compared with a monthly average of over 1.2 trillion yuan in the first half -- will also pull down transactions in the coming months, said Gao Shanwen, chief economist at Essence Securities."

(5) Constrained Lending -> Real Estate Asset Price Declines by End of Year

Policy tweaks and slower lending will probably be enough for now, analysts say, allowing Beijing to stop short of declaring a full-fledged campaign to stamp out property speculation similar to one in 2007. Ge projected that housing prices would drop toward the end of 2009 or early next year, by about 10 percent, much less than a 20-30 percent fall witnessed last year."

Clearly the world economy would suffer greatly if the program disapated in effect so quickly.

Let me know how you are preparing for the stimulus to wear off and when you expect the timing to occur.


Lockstep said...

The stimulus is still in effect. No conclusive sign of it disapating yet.


China needs to be watched closely.