A question becoming increasingly relevant as China cuts back on statistical releases. From Burn-Murdoch at FT:
In this context, one can view the recent delay of Q3 GDP release as emblematic of a continuous process of dismantling the technocratic elements of economic management in China. We will probably have to rely more and more on alternative means of estimating Chinese economic activity, as in satellite imagery of nighttime lighting, or alternative composites of reported economic indicators (Li Keqiang index).
For a recap, here are the nowcasts and forecasts of reported GDP (that is, trying to forecast what official GDP will be reported as, not what actual activity might be), from this post.
Figure 1: China GDP (black), Bloomberg consensus as of 10/17 (sky blue square), Goldman Sachs as of 10/11 (brown triangle), and IMF World Economic Outlook October 2022 forecasts (red square), mn 2020CNY, quarterly rates. ECRI peak-to-trough recession dates shaded gray. Source: IMF, International Financial Statistics, Bloomberg (October 17, 2022), Goldman Sachs “Top of Mind” (10/11) and IMF World Economic Outlook, October 2022, ECRI, and author’s calculations.
While several observers have noted that in recent years, Chinese GDP movements at business cycle frequencies have matched what other indicators are suggesting, in the most recent quarters, there has been some skepticism evidenced (see this post).
In some ways, the problem posed by reduced reporting of low frequency indicators will make it harder to evaluate trend growth in output. Here, see Martinez’s (2022) Figure 6, which shows that over the 1992-2012 period, China’s official growth was nearly 200%, while estimated from satellite data, was 120% (second bar from the left in panel (a), third bar from the left in panel (b)).