The Chinese economy had been growing at about 10% a year, like clockwork, for years. Now, China is in the midst of an economic slowdown, with growth expected to come in this year at 30%–50% below China’s five-year average growth rate.
Why is China’s economy growing so slowly, and why does it matter to us here in North America?
Manufacturing, the key component of China’s economy, is quickly slowing. The HSBC Chinese Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) declined for the sixth consecutive month in April, registering at 48.1. Remember that any reading below 50 for the PMI suggests an outright contraction in the manufacturing sector. (Source: Markit, May 5, 2014.)
Japan isn’t faring any better; the third-biggest hub in the global economy is facing its own economic slowdown. The government and Japan’s central bank are trying to boost the economy by printing more and more money, but they are failing miserably. Japan’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth has been abysmal for years.
Germany is the only country in the eurozone showing some resilience. Other eurozone countries, like France, Italy, and Spain, are also facing an economic slowdown. Bad debt, tight lending requirements, and high unemployment remain the biggest problems in the common currency region; so big, the European Central Bank (ECB) wants to take the same course as the Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan and start printing more paper money.
In the U.S., we, too, have a soft economy. The first quarter of 2014 proved to be terrible for corporate profits growth. And if the rest of the world is in an economic slowdown, I don’t know how the U.S. can escape it. With about half of the S&P 500 companies getting sales from outside the U.S., how can America escape the worldwide economic slowdown?
Remember, dear reader, that the U.S. economy grew at only 0.1% in the first quarter of 2014 after growing at 2.6% in the last quarter of 2013. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, April 30, 2014.) Hence, we now have the four largest economies in the world going through an economic slowdown.
But have no fear… The stock market continues to rise almost daily. It must know something we don’t.