China’s GDP: Good, Disappointing, or Passable?

Data released from China yesterday revealed that the world’s second largest economy grew by 9.1% in the third quarter, a pace which is not only short of the 9.3% growth expectations, but is also the two-year low for the country’s GDP.

Digging deeper into the other reports, we see that industrial production increased by 13.8% from a year earlier. This is slightly higher than the expected 13.4% rise and the 13.5% figure in August. Meanwhile, China’s retail sales went up by 17.7% after growing by only 17% in August.

While a few officials from the Western countries would give up their iPad2s to achieve a similar pace of growth for their own economies, many still say that the impact of the PBOC’s monetary tightening and a general weakness in export demand leaves a lot to be desired.

Recall that the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) tightened monetary policy during the first few months this year by regularly raising its RRR and interest rates. Unfortunately, some of its impacts include higher mortgages, decreased housing demand, and price cuts from real estate developers.

Another reason for China’s slower growth is slower export demand. Wasn’t it just last week when we saw that the country’s trade surplus narrowed for a second straight month in September? According to government data, exports outpaced imports only by 14.5 billion USD, down from 17.8 billion USD in August.

Apparently, both imports and exports fell during the month, which reflects the weakness in the global economy. And you know what, some market junkies are even saying that China could see its first trade deficit in twenty years if the euro zone economy doesn’t hustle some muscle soon!

But does this mean that we’re gonna hear the PBOC holler an interest rate cut soon to spur economic growth? Erm, I wouldn’t get excited about that yet, if I were you.

Sure, a few analysts are worried that a global recession could send China’s GDP down to 7.7% in the first quarter of 2012, but the PBOC also has to grapple with high inflationary pressures in the domestic economy. Keep in mind that the country’s annualized CPI reading for September printed at 6.1%, which is lower than its three-year high by only a measly 0.4%.

While the latest string of economic reports from China doesn’t necessarily equate to a looser monetary policy by the PBOC, it suggests that China will most likely focus on its own economic recovery in the near future. For some economists, this translates to reduced chances of the country playing the white knight to the euro zone debt crisis. And that, others also say, is reason enough to worry.