zerohedge.com / By Tyler Durden / January 8, 2013, 18:30
Via Wei Yao of Societe Generale, Imagine a hard landing in China…
The Chinese economy has been enjoying a cyclical rebound since the beginning of Q4 2012. SocGen’s central scenario is that this recovery will last until early Q2 2013 and then gradually lose momentum. In the medium term, they still anticipate a bumpy path of secular deceleration, leading to an average growth rate of 6-7% over the next five to seven years, down from 10% per annum over the last three decades.
This piece focuses on what is probably the most popular “what-if” question about the Chinese economy – what if China hard lands? We define a hard landing in 2013 as one where the official, full-year, real GDP growth rate plummets to below 6%, which we see as the minimum level needed to keep the job market stable and avoid systemic financial risk. As China undergoes demographic ageing and growth of the working-age population slows, this minimum stable growth level will decline further. However, if progress in rebalancing and structural reform remains slow, the probability of a hard landing will rise over the medium term. In the tail risk scenario set out below, 2013 will see several quarters with just 3% growth and full year growth would stand at just 4.2% compared to our central scenario of 7.4%.
What are the most likely triggers?
Two types of events could trigger a hard landing in China. First, the experience of 2008 showed that the Chinese economy is vulnerable to trade shocks. The Lehman crisis made exports go into reverse, resulting in the loss of nearly 50 million migrant worker jobs in the two quarters after it took place. Second, a hard landing could be provoked by either insufficient public investment from Beijing or a sharp property market correction, which could also be partly induced by tight policies. Policymakers might choose to do so out of concerns over systemic risks posed by local governments’ unhealthy leverage or rising social discontent on high housing prices. The point is that they would not deliberately choose to force a fast correction, but as China’s imbalances are already at a precarious level, the room for error and the likelihood of nasty unintended consequences is not negligible.