Chief economist update: Is China starting to slow down?

Be afraid, be very afraid.

This appears to be the foreboding flashing on investors' dashboards following yesterday's 3.7% drubbing in the Shanghai composite index and the 0.5% depreciation in the Chinese yuan CNY6.9136 versus the greenback.

At any other given day, investors would have dismissed this as one of those occasions of extreme volatility in the Chinese equity market.

But the fact that this happened a day after the People's Bank of China (PBOC) boosted liquidity in the domestic economy - in the form of a 100 basis point reduction in the reserve requirement (to 14.5% for big banks and 12.5% for smaller banks) is, indeed, a cause for concern.

The move is expected to inject between US$110 billion and US$175 billion into China's economy (depending on which website you read).

Even more so, because the PBOC also doubled down by allowing the yuan depreciate very, very close to the CNY7.000/US$1 line in the sand it long ago set as a target wherein which it would move to "stabilise" the currency.

At first glance, these smack of panic from the Chinese government that the economy is slowing and that financial markets are not convinced that these latest moves - in addition to its recent steps of easing down on reducing debt and re-starting infrastructure spending - would be sufficient to turn Beijing's fortune around ... not with the Trump's trade war sword hanging over its head.

Australia would be one of the hardest hit by China's slowdown. China is Australia's biggest trading partner and buys 32% of the country's total exports. Not to mention the flow on effects on Australia from other economies that imports from Australia.

For sure, the signs are ominous but still, isn't this what China had been aiming for all along? That is, to rebalance its economy away from exports and into domestic consumption?

Trump's tariffs may have just hastened that rebalancing and China won't be hurt as much.

This is because China's reliance exports have fallen over the years. World Bank figures show that China's exports have dropped to 19.8% of GDP in 2017 from 27.3% in 2012 and 39.1% in 2006.

At the same time, private consumption has increased to 39.1% of GDP in 2017 from 36.7% in 2012 and 38.5% in 2006.

This is given credence by the latest indications from the Caixin PMI indices where the manufacturing PMI slowed (but only marginally) - the one exposed to the trade spat - to 50.0 in September from 50.6 in the previous month while the non-manufacturing index jumped to 53.1 from 51.5 in August.

Read more: Donald Trump
Link to something iC1JEmqQ