China's imports may have soared in January: Does that mean anything?

02/03/2010 12:30 pm EST


Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor,

  Numbers like that would sure make the rest of the world feel better about China. They might even put to rest some of the worries about a slowdown in China’s growth as the government tightens standards for bank lending.

 China’s imports climbed 100% in January, according to projections by China International Capital. Exports rose a paltry 30%, the company estimates. The official numbers on Chinese imports and exports are due out on February 10.

 In January 2009 imports slid by 43%.

 Domestic consumption of durable goods such as cars and household appliances are likely to have driven the import surge since China’s manufacturers import parts and subassemblies for those goods from Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.

It’s my job to rain on parades (and hand out umbrellas in down pours) so let me do just that here.

The first three weeks of January saw run away bank lending and easy consumer credit. The government’s tightening isn’t likely to be reflected in January trade numbers to any great extent. I don’t think we can judge how much, if at all, that tightening will slow growth from this data.
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