How Badly Flawed is Chinese Economic Data? The Opening Bid is $1 Trillion

32 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2013 Last revised: 14 Aug 2013

Christopher Balding

Peking University - HSBC School of Business; ESADE University Faculties - ESADEgeo

Date Written: August 14, 2013

Abstract

Baseline Chinese economic data is unreliable. Taking published National Bureau of Statistics China data on the components of consumer price inflation, I attempt to reconcile the official data to third party data. Three problems are apparent in official NBSC data on inflation. First, the base data on housing price inflation is manipulated. According to the NBSC, urban private housing occupants enjoyed a total price increase of only 6% between 2000 and 2011. Second, while renters faced cumulative price increases in excess of 50% during the same period, the NBSC classifies most Chinese households has private housing occupants making them subject to the significantly lower inflation rate. Third, despite beginning in the year 2000 with nearly two-thirds of Chinese households in rural areas, the NSBC applies a straight 80/20 urban/rural private housing weighting throughout our time sample. This further skews the accuracy of the final data. To correct for these manipulative practices, I use third party and related NBSC data to better estimate the change in consumer prices in China between 2000 and 2011. I find that using conservative assumptions about price increases the annual CPI in China should be adjusted upwards by approximately 1%. This reduces real Chinese GDP by 8-12% or more than $1 trillion in PPP terms.

Keywords: China, inflation, real GDP, GDP deflator

JEL Classification: E31, E4, E5

Suggested Citation

Balding, Christopher, How Badly Flawed is Chinese Economic Data? The Opening Bid is $1 Trillion (August 14, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2307054 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2307054

Christopher Balding (Contact Author)

Peking University - HSBC School of Business ( email )

University Town
Nanshan District
Shenzhen, Guang Dong 518055
China

ESADE University Faculties - ESADEgeo

Mateo Inurria, 25-27
Madrid, 28036
Spain

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