Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Peering into China via trade statistics

Getting accurate information on China is a challenge. While its hard to prove they are making their numbers up I don't put much credence in many official statistics released from the Glorious Workers Paradise. (WSJ June 2011, Reuters December 2010)

Fortunately there are other ways of observing China, from their borders specifically.  Trade statistics between the Middle Kingdom and the US is actually reported and available from US sources.  The story they tell show of slowing trade between the countries in both directions.

Year over year % change of 3 month average
Source: Federal Reserve
While the graph above is smoothed and lagged quite a bit one can see both China and the US's decline in 2008/09 and China's massive resurgence in 2009 and the US a few months later.

Right now the story is also one of declining growth of trade in both directions.  

Of course trade partners may and will shift their vendors around from country to country so this data should be looked at with some large error bars on the data, but this slowdown is something to keep an eye on as a coincident/lagging indicator of each countries economic trajectory.

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