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China, Tired Of Manipulating Home Price Data, Suspends It

Tyler Durden's picture


Once again China shows how it's done. Instead of continuing to issue it vastly manipulated national property price index, the Chinese statistics agency has simply decided to stop publishing this highly regarded (if completely irrelevant) metric. From the WSJ: "China's statistics agency said it will stop publishing the country's much-watched official index of national property prices." The reason: even armed with Moody's GIGO spreadsheets to "calculate" the data and provide "output", the country was unable to mask the surge in property prices, resulting in a build up of popular anger. Alas, this move which is nothing but an act of massive condescension, and is supposed to get unpleasant data "out of sight and out of mind", will achieve precisely the opposite, as one billion Chinese know too well just how rapidly surging Chinese inflation is first hand.

From the WSJ:

The announcement Wednesday, part of a broader revision of property-price data by the National Bureau of Statistics, fueled already widespread frustration and skepticism about the quality and transparency of economic data in the world's second largest economy. It came just a day after the statistics bureau published a lower-than-expected inflation reading based on a revised formula for the consumer-price index that economists criticized as lacking transparency.

The move is likely to make it harder for executives and investors to gauge national trends in China's property sector, a huge driver of its economic growth and of global demand for steel, cement, and other inputs. The statistics bureau was due to announce its monthly estimate of national property-price changes for January on Friday.

The reason for the end of the data series? Shades of the excuse of why the Fed stopped publishing the M3 (reminder: it was too expensive).

The statistics bureau said it was making the changes to improve the
quality of its data. The national property-price index has been
criticized for understating the severity of the country's property
bubble by diluting the large rises in big cities with tamer changes in
smaller ones. It will now publish only separate data for the 70 cities
that made up the index, and it will use a new method of calculating
property prices that only looks at housing, not commercial property.

The anger is already coming:

This week's statistics changes, which come as Chinese consumer and property prices are under intense global scrutiny for signs of inflation and asset-bubble pressures, drew sharp criticism from some analysts.

"It's just like changing the scale of a thermometer, and then telling a patient they no longer need to take medicine for their fever, and the whole family cheers that the illness is cured," Xu Xiaonian, a professor of Economics and Finance at the China-Europe International Business School, said on his personal microblog Wednesday.

For those wondering what the voodoo behind the new "data" is:

The bureau's previous property data series relied on information from a survey of transactions, conducted at a local level. Those transactions were meant to be representative, but the series was widely criticized by analysts and the general public for failing to reflect the sharp increases in housing prices in recent years.

Under the new method, the bureau will instead rely on data from online property registries maintained by local authorities, initially in just 35 cities. The remaining cities will continue to use the survey method but will switch over as they develop their own online property registries.

And don't for a minute think that the US is immune from this: as noted, the Fed cancelled the M3 when it started being inconvenient. Pretty soon the CPI, the PPI, the H.4, the H.3.1, the H.6 the G.19 and who knows what else will also be eliminated. The reason: synergies.


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Wed, 02/16/2011 - 13:34 | Link to Comment hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture

Eastasia has always been priced affordably.

How does one say "memory hole" in Mandarin?

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 13:39 | Link to Comment bankonzhongguo
bankonzhongguo's picture

jiyi kongdong


Wed, 02/16/2011 - 14:12 | Link to Comment tmosley
tmosley's picture

Bang dae ho.

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 13:31 | Link to Comment hidingfromhelis
hidingfromhelis's picture

What, was it too expensive to compile and report a-la M3?

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 13:32 | Link to Comment EscapeKey
EscapeKey's picture

Oh, so it went the way of the US 2010 budget, then.

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 13:33 | Link to Comment jus_lite_reading
jus_lite_reading's picture

The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. The first step to total chaos is denying you have a problem. Good night Alice

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 13:59 | Link to Comment MarketTruth
MarketTruth's picture

If indeed the first step to total chaos is denying you have a problem, then the Federal Reserve and US Government are right on track to chaos-ville.

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 18:11 | Link to Comment tonyw
tonyw's picture

Problem, what problem? along the lines of "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 13:34 | Link to Comment papaswamp
papaswamp's picture

data?!...we don't need no stinkin data!!

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 13:33 | Link to Comment FOC 1183
Wed, 02/16/2011 - 14:08 | Link to Comment topcallingtroll
topcallingtroll's picture

they are much worse than us.  Our data has some basis to it, and if you want to calculate it differently with shadow stats you can.  the chinese are just blatant frauds in all their data.

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 13:35 | Link to Comment palmereldritch
palmereldritch's picture

I call BLS!

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 13:45 | Link to Comment TraderMark
TraderMark's picture


Wed, 02/16/2011 - 13:35 | Link to Comment Cleanclog
Cleanclog's picture

My new hero - Xu Xiaonian.  Great analogy.  He understands why the Bernank is doing the wealth effect.
"It's just like changing the scale of a thermometer, and then telling a patient they no longer need to take medicine for their fever, and the whole family cheers that the illness is cured," Xu Xiaonian, a professor of Economics and Finance at the China-Europe International Business School, said on his personal microblog Wednesday.


And he understands that Kyle Bass is actually an American patriot because he tells the truth and doesn't drink the kool-aid and burp it back out.

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 13:38 | Link to Comment RemiG2010
RemiG2010's picture

The Chinese are fast learners!

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 13:37 | Link to Comment lieutenantjohnchard
lieutenantjohnchard's picture

i thought it interesting that even bernanke in the uncensored testimony released yesterday said that moody's was lousy. course that was widely believed anyway. nevertheless interesting to hear from the chairsatan himself.

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 14:20 | Link to Comment assumptionblindness
assumptionblindness's picture

I predict that Moody's will be the first ratings agency to downgrade the sovereign credit of the US.  That should equate to a nice kick in the nuts for the world's largest holder of US debt.  Nice reward for the first words of truth to ever spew from The Bernank.

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 13:40 | Link to Comment karzai_luver
karzai_luver's picture

All you need to know about the Chi is that they are some mad ass gambling freaks.


You can't hold a candle to them.


Wed, 02/16/2011 - 14:09 | Link to Comment LFMayor
LFMayor's picture

True dat.  If we rounded up the banksters and set up some tournaments, a la "The Deer Hunter", I bet we could make back most of the riffle we owe them.

And have a swell time doing it.

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 13:43 | Link to Comment DB Cooper
DB Cooper's picture

Expect this soon with our own inflation and unemployment stats - it get's very hard and confusing to keep all the hedonics and birth/death adjustments straight.

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 13:44 | Link to Comment TraderMark
TraderMark's picture

Somewhere the BLS is convening a meeting asking "can we do this?!"

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 13:47 | Link to Comment buzzsaw99
Wed, 02/16/2011 - 13:49 | Link to Comment John Law Lives
John Law Lives's picture

It will be interesting to see how far Chinese citizens will go to protest their living conditions.  Their military will not likely be as passive as the military in Egypt.

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 13:54 | Link to Comment buzzsaw99
buzzsaw99's picture

i think the chinese military is about ready to shoot some people i just wonder which people it will be.

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 13:51 | Link to Comment born2bmild
Wed, 02/16/2011 - 14:47 | Link to Comment thedrickster
Wed, 02/16/2011 - 13:53 | Link to Comment RemiG2010
RemiG2010's picture

China, Tired Of Manipulating Home Price Data, Suspends It

Btw. In professional statistical terminology you do not say "manipulating" (that's outrageous), instead you say “massaging”!

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 13:53 | Link to Comment Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

has simply decided to stop publishing this highly regarded (if completely irrelevant) metric


Why do we pay any attention to these NUMBers anymore? Distractions from truth...


Wed, 02/16/2011 - 13:57 | Link to Comment AccreditedEYE
AccreditedEYE's picture

Jim Chanos is somewhere laughing right now...

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 14:02 | Link to Comment gorillaonyourback
gorillaonyourback's picture

in china i guess they figured everyone new their stats are bullshit so they just stoped wastin their time, here our govn believes we r still stupid enough to believe our stats lolololol

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 14:03 | Link to Comment topcallingtroll
topcallingtroll's picture

China is now acting crazy.  They recently threatened their neighbors in their main communist newspaper for cozying up to the West.  These neighbors cozied up to the West because they felt threatened by China in the first place.  Way to go China! 

The communist daily also threatened to use their currency reserves and economic might to bully the USA and to bully their neighbors into diminishing their ties with the USA.  That is sure going to work well!  Now of course all the Asian nations know not to become too dependent on China.

This huge gold and silver buying is out of fear.  The real estate bubble and ghost city problem is out of control.  China may be the biggest malinvestment story in history.  It was thought that Japan was going to take over the world in the eighties.  The fear of a dominant China may be overblown.  China appears to be in the middle of a crack up boom, and with less sophisticated tools and less experience they appear to be applying fat fingers everywhere.   Their central planning may have produced the biggest malinvestment in industrial products and real estate the world has ever seen.  They don't have price signals to moderate malinvestment, with their banks continually providing money losing loans and most production figures being a state secret. 

China is trapped now which is why they are so angry and acting crazy.  They can continue to allow dollar dominance, or they can let their currency revalue against the dollar and move toward a  Yuan-included-SDR or  a Bancor, but they can't do both! 

In the former we continue to squeeze them and they crash with inflation and margin compression.  We can continue to qe them forever and they will have to suck it up.  In the latter our balance of trade improves (not without a few problems along the way of course).  We win either way.

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 14:24 | Link to Comment born2bmild
born2bmild's picture

I used to work out of Dutch Harbor Alaska. The Japanese fishing companies would bring their trawlers into (just outside of actually) port to offload every time they got full.The trawlers would offload to Japanese, Korean or Chinese boats. A boatload of frozen fish would take ~10 days for the Koreans to offload, 4-5 days for the Japanese and 2- 3 weeks for the Chinese. Not that the Chinese were lazy, they worked harder than any of them. Just inefficient, wrong kinds of boats for the job (loading tankers, not cargo ships with one or two  holds and one or two cranes). I remember being amazed they'd made it as far as they had at that time (early '90's)...

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 16:30 | Link to Comment Saxxon
Saxxon's picture

Nice post topcallingtroll.  Crack-up Boom is a brilliant phrase to describe this (I think the Austrians came up with it?).

It has been fun, in a ghoulish sort of way, to watch China play at being a First-World nation.  They stuck their smiley face stickers and roly-poly panda image on every fucking thing the last ten years, shifting into 5th gear for the 2008 Olympics.

Now the mask is starting to slip and soon the truncheons and jackboots of totalitarianism will be broken out and used on the people.

The ruling party will isolate towns, even entire provinces to preserve the appearance of total power.  Look what happened to the 'AIDS villages' and to Sichuan and Xinjiang Provinces.

We already have the playbook; George Orwell wrote it 60 years ago.  We are moving to Endgame, briskly.

I travel to the PRC or HK at least once a year and always have a fascinating and good time; I love the people there but their governance is like a benign-seeming '1984'.  Soon not to be so benign. 

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 18:23 | Link to Comment tonyw
tonyw's picture

Yes, yes but why do you keep insisting on the word communist? They might even refer to themselves as communist but that is only to keep the masses quiet and toiling for the good of all:-).

The fascist conception of the State is all-embracing and this is what you have in both China and the USSA; an elite group of cronies that controls the masses for its own ends.

In China people are allowed to take loans and buy multiple properties, for health they have to pay, hardly communist is it?


Wed, 02/16/2011 - 14:07 | Link to Comment Josh Randall
Josh Randall's picture

my plastic rice is boiling over

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 14:13 | Link to Comment tmosley
tmosley's picture

Must be all that global warming.

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 14:09 | Link to Comment edwardo1
edwardo1's picture

Oppressive governments and mendacious governments, whether on the left or right always resort to the same flim flam, change the language and doctor the statistics. When those two methods fail then simply pretend that which used to be reported on euphemistically and with doctored and cherry picked data does not exist. There are so many ways to lie.

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 14:09 | Link to Comment D-Falt
D-Falt's picture

If only the USG could do the same w/ U6....

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 14:24 | Link to Comment highwaytoserfdom
highwaytoserfdom's picture

Hey the Helicopter taught them how to do this.. Plenty of examples M3, PCE deflator, employment participation rate, excluding foreclosures in Case Shiller.. Oh! what about excluding food and energy in inflation calculations. In engineering you have  Lumped Abstraction  but we all know there are bounds or limits. Now economics has limits of cash flow or income in free markets anyway. Do you have to acknoledge a problem to fix it? 

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 14:43 | Link to Comment thedrickster
thedrickster's picture

Bah, I am Steve Liesman and I say debt obligation ratio or something renders your pessimism foolhardy, partisan and while I am at it, racist.


Wed, 02/16/2011 - 15:00 | Link to Comment Greater Fool
Greater Fool's picture

Your Fate has been Adjusted.

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 15:34 | Link to Comment ThirdCoastSurfer
ThirdCoastSurfer's picture

Hopefully someone in the Administration is working on a stock stability / bail out plan for KFC in particular, Yum Brands and the distributors in general, and all the rest in abstract when "opening" a new store a day proves to be a communist mistake. We can only hope that the "correction" (expropriation) arrives before Boeing, Chrysler and the rest are fully invested in plant and property. 

Thu, 02/17/2011 - 00:53 | Link to Comment PulauHantu29
PulauHantu29's picture

Even rentals there are outrageous; $12,000 USD a month for a 1,800 sf apartment near (not within!) the CBD in Beijing.

If you might want to buy instead of being a mere renter (as ALL realtors tell you i sso much better) the buy price is $1,600,000 USD.



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