COLUMN-Is China’s economy like Clouseau’s inflatable parrot? – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.K. – August 14, 2014)

Clyde Russell is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own.

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Aug 14 (Reuters) – Why does the Chinese economy remind me of Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau?

One of the many memorable scenes featuring the late Peter Sellers as the bumbling French detective comes in the Revenge of the Pink Panther, when he disguises himself as a peg-legged Swedish sailor, complete with an inflatable rubber parrot on his shoulder. [here ]

Problem is the parrot leaks, requiring Clouseau to flap his arm to operate a pump to re-inflate the bird, which eventually pops off as too much air is put in.

The connection to the Chinese economy is that once again a set of softer-than-expected economic numbers has the market anticipating that the authorities will act to boost activity. Like Clouseau’s parrot, every time the economy loses some air, the expectation is that it will be pumped up again and it will return to health.

The release of economic data that failed to meet expectations on Wednesday is the latest case in point. Credit figures showed that the amount of money flowing into the Chinese economy fell to a six-year low in July, while growth in investment, retail sales and bank lending was short of the market consensus.

Property investment also slowed in the January to July period, gaining 13.7 percent, down from 14.1 percent in the first half.

New property construction dropped 12.8 percent in the first seven months of 2014 from the same period last year.

The weaker numbers contrast with signs of improvement elsewhere, including a pick-up in both the official and the HSBC purchasing managers’ indices.

Other areas that don’t appear weak include vehicle sales, up 6.7 percent in July from a year earlier and 8.2 percent on a year-to-date basis.

China posted a record trade surplus in July, with the growth in exports from the same month in 2013 at 14.5 percent, almost double the market consensus, while imports dropped 1.6 percent.

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