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Deflation – China’s economy’s in big trouble



China’s economy faces fresh challenges as it grapples with deflation in its consumer sector while factory-gate prices continue to decline.

The world’s second-largest economy is encountering difficulties in reigniting demand, prompting calls for additional policy measures to stimulate growth.

Concerns are mounting that China might be entering an era of sluggish economic expansion similar to Japan’s “lost decades.” During this period, Japan experienced stagnant consumer prices and wages, a sharp contrast to the rapid inflation observed elsewhere.

China’s initial post-pandemic recovery, which started with a strong first quarter, has lost momentum. Weakened demand both domestically and internationally, coupled with policies aimed at bolstering economic activity, have not yielded the desired results.

CPI down

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported a 0.3% year-on-year decrease in the consumer price index (CPI) for July, contradicting a Reuters poll that anticipated a 0.4% decline.

This marks the first drop since February 2021. Concurrently, the producer price index (PPI) has declined for ten consecutive months, registering a steeper-than-expected 4.4% fall.

This deflationary trend has led to apprehension among consumers and businesses, who are choosing to hoard cash instead of spending or investing, despite lower interest rates.

China’s consumer price index fall is the first negative reading since Japan’s in August 2021, raising concerns about its impact on major trading partners.

Gary Ng, Asia Pacific senior economist at Natixis, noted, “For China, the divergence between manufacturing and services is increasingly apparent, meaning the economy will grow at two speeds in the rest of 2023, especially as the problem in real estate re-emerges. It also shows China’s slower-than-expected economic rebound is not strong enough to offset the weaker global demand and lift commodity prices.”

Real estate crisis

These figures follow a recent report indicating a decline in exports and imports for July.

The real estate sector, a cornerstone of China’s economy, is also grappling with mounting debt issues. This economic environment has prompted consumers and businesses to be cautious with their spending and investment, even as interest rates remain low.

These developments have implications beyond China’s borders, raising concerns about the impact on its major trading partners and the global economy. While many major economies are grappling with inflationary pressures, China’s current deflationary situation sets it apart.

Despite these challenges, Chinese officials have downplayed the risk of prolonged deflation. Liu Guoqiang, deputy governor of the central bank, emphasized that deflationary risks are not expected in the latter half of the year, while acknowledging that the economy requires time to normalize post-pandemic.

China’s CPI decline in July was mainly driven by a steep 26% drop in pork prices, owing to a combination of weak consumption and ample supplies. However, on a month-on-month basis, the CPI actually increased by 0.2%, defying expectations for a decrease, fueled by a surge in holiday travel.

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Moody’s downgrades China credit outlook, cites growth concerns



Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded China’s credit outlook, expressing concerns about the country’s economic growth prospects and the ongoing property market crisis.

The credit rating agency revised its outlook from stable to negative, citing a combination of factors that are putting pressure on China’s economy.

China’s economic growth has been slowing down in recent years, and Moody’s warns that this trend is expected to continue. The country faces challenges such as high debt levels, a rapidly aging population, and a declining labor force. These factors could hamper its ability to sustain robust economic growth in the future.

Additionally, the ongoing property market crisis in China is a major concern for Moody’s. The real estate sector has been a significant driver of the country’s economic growth, but it is currently experiencing a severe downturn with falling property prices and a growing number of unsold homes. This crisis has the potential to further weigh on China’s economic performance.

Moody’s decision to downgrade China’s credit outlook raises questions about the country’s ability to manage its economic challenges effectively. It also underscores the importance of addressing issues in the property market to prevent a broader economic crisis.

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Australia Post to shift to alternate-day mail delivery



In a move aimed at modernising its operations and accommodating the growing e-commerce industry, Australia Post has announced plans to reduce letter deliveries to every second day.

This significant shift is part of a broader strategy to expand its parcel business and adapt to changing consumer preferences.

Australia Post has recognized the declining demand for traditional letter services in an increasingly digital age. With more people communicating electronically and relying on email and messaging apps, the postal service has faced challenges in sustaining daily mail deliveries. By transitioning to alternate-day letter delivery, Australia Post aims to optimize its resources and focus on meeting the surging demand for parcel deliveries, driven by the booming online shopping market.

This strategic shift comes as a response to the changing landscape of postal services worldwide. Many postal agencies are diversifying their services to remain relevant and profitable. Australia Post’s move is expected to not only streamline its operations but also reduce costs associated with daily letter deliveries, ultimately benefiting both the organization and its customers.

While the change may be welcomed by those who prefer faster parcel deliveries, it raises questions about the impact on individuals and businesses reliant on daily mail services. Australia Post will need to address concerns regarding the potential delay of important correspondence and provide solutions to ensure minimal disruption for customers during this transition period.

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RBA maintains 4.35% rates as mortgage applications surge



The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has decided to keep its official cash rate at 4.35%, citing concerns over the rapidly increasing number of mortgage applications.

This decision comes after several consecutive meetings where the RBA has refrained from adjusting interest rates.

The central bank’s decision to hold rates steady reflects their cautious approach to managing the current housing market boom. Mortgage applications have seen a significant surge in recent months, driven by record-low interest rates and increased demand for housing. While this has been a boon for the real estate industry, it has raised concerns about the potential for a housing bubble and financial stability.

Experts are divided on whether the RBA’s decision is the right course of action.

Some argue that maintaining low-interest rates is necessary to support economic recovery, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Others worry that the continued surge in mortgage applications without rate adjustments could lead to unsustainable levels of household debt.

In light of this decision, homeowners, prospective buyers, and investors will be closely watching the housing market’s trajectory and wondering how long the RBA can maintain its current stance.

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