Stagflation Looms As China's Economy Suffers Weakest Growth Since Q1 2009

Chinese macro data has been serially disappointing for almost five straight months, and tonight - as Yuan tests down to cycle lows - all eyes are on the heavily 'managed' macro data to reasssure the masses that despite a 25-35% collapse in its stock market this year, all is well in the land of hidden debt.

China's regulator already offered up some reassurance tonight that "China's financial market volatility is not in line with the healthy status of the economy..." adding that "financial risks are controllable."

Before tonight's main meal of government-sponsored data is served up, we remind you, as we reported two weeks ago, an indicator produced by a Beijing-based business school in the style of the closely-watched purchasing managers index plunged last month, adding to concerns about the slowing economy and raising the question of whether business conditions may be worse than official statistics show.

The index is based on a survey of CKGSB students and graduates who are executives at companies operating in China. The respondents represent around 300 privately-owned small and mid-sized enterprises across several sectors of the economy.

"Most surveyed companies are now experiencing unprecedented difficulties and have become increasingly pessimistic about business prospects for the next six months," Li Wei, the economics professor at CKGSB who oversees the survey, said in a commentary accompanying the September survey results.

"For most, business has never been worse."

In fact, one look at the 'real' economic data in China and it is evident that it has been disappointing for the longest period since 2015...

And heading into tonight's print, yuan was weakening...

So given all that, we are sure tonight's data dump will be goldilocks - not too warm (because everyone would know it was fake) and not too cold (because we can't signal that Trump is winning).

Before the data hits, bear in mind what Bloomberg noted, Chinese growth data has become both extremely predictable and frankly boring these last five years.

Reported figures have haven't deviated by more than 0.2 percentage points from median forecasts since 2013. Another observation is if you look further back, it almost never comes in below expectations.

So here's tonight's data:

  • China Q3 GDP Missed at +6.5% YoY vs +6.6% YoY expectations (and +6.7% YoY prior)

  • China Sept Retail Sales Beat at +9.2% YoY vs +9.0% YoY expectations (and +9.0% YoY prior)

  • China Sept Industrial Production Missed at +5.8% YoY vs +6.0% YoY expectations (and +6.1% YoY prior)

  • China Sept Fixed Asset Investment Beat at +5.4% YoY vs +5.3% YoY expectations (and +5.3% YoY prior)

China’s economy faced increasing headwinds in the third quarter, with worsening trade tensions and the government’s deleveraging campaign undercutting growth. Those problems prompted officials to step up stimulus, but the impact of those measures has yet to kick in and more may be needed.

"We expect further escalation of US-China trade tensions going into 2019, which will likely be partially offset by CNY adjustment and more growth-supportive fiscal and monetary policies," wrote JPMorgan economists led by Zhu Haibin, who expect growth to slow to 6.1 percent next year. "We expect fiscal and monetary policies to become more growth-supportive, providing a lift to headline GDP growth," they wrote.

Chinese officials will have to step it up as the stimulus is not working...

China GDP is the weakest on record aside from the peak of the financial crisis; Industrial Production grew at nearly its weakest on record; FAI was the weakest on record; but retail sales bounced...

China's growth moderation has come as inflation quickens, with headline CPI climbing to 2.5% YoY in September, raising the prospect that the nation experiences at least some measure of mild stagflation.

China says downward pressure on growth is growing, according to the National Bureau of Statistic's press release.

As Alhambra's Jeffrey Snider recently noted, like 2015, these RRR cuts are showing us the eurodollar condition. China’s money problems aren’t really Chinese. They are money problems.

Finally, away from the shenanigans of opaque government-sponsored economic data propaganda, something just broke in the Yuan...