“China’s economy posted its second-slowest year of economic growth since 1976, another indication the post-COVID world economy could be vastly different from the decades that preceded the pandemic, Matt writes.
Why it matters: Since it burst onto the world economic stage in the early 1990s, China’s economy has been a central driver of business decisions in virtually every part of the world economy, including Australian and Brazilian miners; oil producers in the Gulf; British and American bankers; Argentinian farmers; and German automakers.
Driving the news: New numbers from China’s National Bureau of Statistics showed its economy expanded by just 3% for the full year, down from 8.1% in 2021.
What they’re saying: “It is very surprising in our view that the reported numbers for December were not worse, given the large Covid wave in the month,” Goldman Sachs economic analysts wrote in a note to clients.
Context: Analysts tie the country’s recent economic ills to its harsh “Zero COVID” lockdown policies, which wreaked havoc last year.
Yes, but: China’s economic problems go beyond the virus.
- Years of a speculative frenzy in housing have caught up with the country. Home prices are now deflating, and major homebuilders appear dangerously over-indebted.
- The government’s sudden confrontation with its formerly high-flying tech sector spooked global investors, prompting foreign investors to pull capital from the country.
- The impact of the virus, as well as growing political tensions with major trading partners such as the U.S., are driving diversification away from Chinese supply chains.
What’s next: Now, a long-predicted demographic downturn in the country has also arrived.
- Numbers released by China on Tuesday showed its population shrank for the first time since the 1960s, as deaths outpaced births.
- While birthrates have long been slowing in China — a typical phenomenon as countries become more affluent — it marks a major tipping point.
The bottom line: The combination of geopolitical tensions, domestic disarray and demographic decline mean it’s all but impossible that China’s economy regains its previous vigor.