In general, in functioning economies with a solid financial architecture and reasonably reliable data, it is clear that PMI responses (excepting the occasional flush of stock market-inspired enthusiasm) can be matched to developments in corporate revenue with these in turn tending to look something like the track of the supply of that money in which invoices ultimately are to be settled.
A moment's thought will reveal why this might be the case. The immediate and most obvious indicator to a businessman of whether trade is picking up is the sound of his cash register ringing more frequently. He will perceive this more readily and more tangibly than he will his count of orders, his stock of inventory, his plans for hiring and firing, and certainly than his eventual, quarterly or semi-annual reckoning of profits - themselves not always the most accurate reflection of whether he can actually continue to pay his way, remember.
It is thus VERY unusual to see large, sudden divergences between receipts and survey responses such as the one which has just miraculously appeared in China.
How to explain this? Well, given that ALL data in China are political constructs and given how anxious the regime has become in recent months to show up their nugatory achievements in the best possible light, is it entirely beyond the bounds of credibility to suggest that they might have exercised a degree of - shall we say - 'moral suasion' on either those ticking the boxes in this bellwether release or even, possibly, on some of those charged with its interpretation?
Such is the commercial sensitivity of the PMI franchise that it is of course unlikely the fault would lie there, for though not utterly inconceivable, one struggles to imagine that a sufficient amount of pressure (threat) could have been brought to bear so as to persuade those involved at that end of the process to undergo the considerable reputational risk entailed in any doctoring of the results.
However, it is surely not too difficult to imagine that a gentle reminder could have been issued to China's loyal business executives to the effect that it would be appropriate for their answers to reflect more closely the dramatic improvement in climate which has already miraculously resulted from Li and Xi's masterly series of 'micro-stimulus' announcements - even before some of these have even had a chance to be put into practice and certainly before the next ‘corruption’ inspection team sweeps down to give them the once over.