July 5, 2022

Commodity Imports Rise, Giving China Good News

HONG KONG — China’s trade rebounded in July in a possible sign that its economy is stabilizing after a slowdown over the last year.

The improvement offers small but encouraging hope for China’s leaders, who are struggling to arrest a downturn that dragged growth to a two-decade low in the latest quarter.

China’s exports rose 5.1 percent in July from a year earlier and imports were up 10.9 percent, according to customs data. China is the world’s second-largest economy, after the United States.

Economists had expected trade to grow after it shrank in June, but the rate of growth surpassed expectations.

China’s politically delicate global trade surplus narrowed to $17.8 billion.

Economists said the surge in imports suggested that domestic demand was holding up, a major goal for China’s policy makers, who are trying to reduce the economy’s dependence on trade and investment in favor of more self-sustaining domestic consumption.

Imports of iron ore, an important commodity used to make steel, surged 24 percent by volume, while copper imports grew 12 percent. Both figures were the fastest rates in more than a year, said Yao Wei, China economist at Société Générale.

She said the return to growth was a sign of “some stabilization in external demand, at best — not yet a solid recovery.”

Analysts said the figures were a sign of improvement but cautioned about reading too much into a single set of numbers.

“July seems to reflect a return to a normal, relatively uninspiring trend after a weak June, rather than the beginning of acceleration in growth,” said Alistair Chan, an economist at Moody’s Analytics. “While the worst seems to be over, the upturn will be relatively flat.”

Chinese leaders are facing pressure to meet a goal of 7.5 percent growth for the year, which is far stronger than the forecasts for the United States, Europe and Japan, but would be the country’s weakest performance since 1991.

Exports to the United States, China’s biggest foreign market, edged up 2.3 percent, leaving a trade surplus of $19.1 billion. Exports to the 27-nation European Union shrank 2.8 percent, for a trade gap of $10 billion.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/09/business/global/rebound-in-trade-hints-at-stability-in-china-economy.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

U.S. Economy Grew at 2.5% Rate in First Quarter

The American economy sped up in the first quarter of this year, with output expanding at an annual pace of 2.5 percent, according to a Commerce Department report released Friday. The number was lower than the 3 percent forecasters had been expecting.

While faster growth of any kind is welcome, much of the acceleration in gross domestic product was probably a result of unusually slow growth at the end of 2012, when the economy grew at an annual pace of just 0.4 percent. Growth in the fourth quarter had been dragged down by reduced restocking of businesses’ inventories, for example, and in the first quarter businesses made up for this by adding much more to their shelves.

Consumer spending was up too, despite fears that the lapse of the temporary payroll tax holiday at the start of the year would hold back how much consumers were willing to spend. It’s unclear whether consumers will continue to spend as freely in the months ahead, once they start to feel the pinch of this effective tax hike, particularly if wages continue to stagnate.

Exports, residential investment (housing, essentially) and business spending on equipment and software also rose.

Economists have expressed concern that the pace of growth may have started out strong in 2013 but slowed by the end of the first quarter, given recent disappointing reports about economic indicators in March. Employment slowed dramatically in March, for example, and orders for durable goods like aircrafts fell more than analysts had expected.

Additionally, across-the-board federal spending cuts, enacted as part of Congress’s so-called sequester, are likely to weigh on growth going forward. In the first quarter of this year, government spending fell at an annual rate of 8.4 percent, after a decrease of 14.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012.

“With fiscal tightening weighing on the spring and summer quarters, we expect weaker growth ahead,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomic Advisers, said in a note to clients said before the report. “We have seen good quarters before, but what counts is sustainability, and on that score we are deeply unconvinced.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/business/economy/us-economy-grew-at-2-5-rate-in-first-quarter.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Chinese Economy Expanded at End of 2012, Data Shows

HONG KONG — The giant Chinese economy picked up steam during the last few months of 2012, closely watched data from Beijing on Friday confirmed. But at the same time the figures underlined the view that the pace of future growth is likely to remain well below that seen in recent years.

China’s gross domestic product expanded 7.9 percent during the final quarter of last year, compared to a year earlier — slightly better than expectations, and significantly above the 7.4 percent pace recorded during the previous quarter.

Separate data for the month of December also came in a touch better than analysts had forecast: Retail sales expanded 15.2 percent from a year earlier, and industrial output grew 10.3 percent. Both figures were slightly better than those recorded in November.

The growth data “was the best we could have wished for,” Dariusz Kowalczyk, an economist at Crédit Agricole in Hong Kong, commented in a note. The figures “should put at rest any remaining doubt about China escaping a hard landing,” he added, referring to widespread fears last year that China could slow down sharply as the global turmoil, feeble domestic demand and a weak property market weighed on growth.

Stock market investors also welcomed the data. The Shanghai composite index rose 0.6 percent by around lunchtime, and in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng climbed 0.8 percent.

China’s mild re-acceleration has been helped by a gradual recovery in overseas demand for Chinese-made goods in recent months, as well as a string of economic stimulus measures announced by the government over the course of last year. These have helped put a floor under the beleaguered property market, and ramped up infrastructure construction activity, in particular.

The batch of data released by the Chinese statistics bureau on Friday also underlined that China’s once red-hot economy has now settled into a much slower pace of expansion.

The head of the statistics authority, Ma Jiantang, acknowledged as much at a press conference in Beijing: “I think you could use these two sentences to give a relatively concise assessment of economic performance in 2012,” he said. “First, national economic performance maintained stability while slowing; second, economic and social development made advances while maintaining stability.”

Annual expansion has slowed to around 8 percent — the pace for 2012 was 7.8 percent, down from the 9.3 percent in 2011 and the 10.4 percent in 2010 — and many economists expect a similar or slightly better pace for 2013.

Xianfang Ren, an economist at IHS Global Insight in Beijing, commented that Friday’s data confirmed “that the worst is probably over for the economy and that China has avoided a hard landing,” But it was “quite a narrow escape.” The economy will likely be “wiggling within quite a narrow band of growth rates in 2013, as the upside pull only marginally outweighs the downside drag,” Ms. Ren added in an e-mailed note.

Many analysts believe that the economy’s momentum may ease again later this year if the government alters policies in a bid to prevent inflation and property prices from heating up again.

Regulators also are watching out for potential problems caused by lending activities outside the regulated banking system, which have been an important driver of economic activity.

The growth of such non-bank credit, commented Yao Wei, an economist at Société Générale in Hong Kong in a recent research report, “is likely to slow once regulators respond seriously to risks rising from the shadow banking system.” Along with tighter property policies, Ms. Yao said, this factor is likely to cause the recovering momentum to fade late in the second quarter of this year.

Longer term, analysts believe the pace is likely to slow even further over the coming decade as the authorities pursue a shift towards higher-quality growth, and grapple with the gradual aging of the country’s population.

“China’s working-age population experienced its first absolute decline for some considerable time, and we are certainly taking this issue seriously,” Mr. Ma, the statistics bureau head, said Friday.

“For quite some time to come, and at least up until 2030, China’s working-age population aged from 15 to less than 60 years old will, I think, steadily and gradually shrink,” Mr. Ma said. This, he added, meant that it was important for China to raise labor productivity.

Chris Buckley contributed reporting.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/19/business/global/chinese-economy-picks-up-steam-in-last-quarter.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Business Briefing | Automobiles: Toyota Deal Tied to Acceleration Advances

A federal judge gave preliminary approval Friday to a $1 billion-plus settlement with Toyota Motor in unintended acceleration cases, a plaintiffs’ lawyer said. The lawyer, Steve Berman, said Judge James V. Selna of United States District Court gave the approval. Toyota has said the deal, announced Wednesday, will resolve hundreds of lawsuits from motorists who said the value of their Toyotas fell after recalls were made as a result of unintentional acceleration.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/29/business/toyota-deal-tied-to-acceleration-advances.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Career Couch: Overqualified? Don’t Be Overwrought

A. Start by changing your perspective, says Caitlin Kelly, author of “Malled,” a book based on her experience as a retail sales clerk after losing her job in journalism.

“Don’t focus on what you’re not getting but what you are getting,” she says. “I may have been overqualified for folding T-shirts, but I was underqualified for selling, being patient and working attentively with a wide range of people. It doesn’t matter what the job is — there are always things you can learn and skills you can develop.”

Hilary Pearl, founder of the executive coaching firm Pearl Associates in Greenwich, Conn, says: “Tell yourself the current situation isn’t the end of your career. Don’t overdramatize the negative aspects but try to view the situation more philosophically: life is a series of phases, and this is one of them.”

Consider that because you’re overqualified, you may be able to learn or do things on the job that might not have been possible in a more demanding position, says Sarah Hathorn, a career acceleration coach and chief executive of Illustra Consulting in Atlanta. “You could invest your extra time in learning different aspects of the business,” she says, “and teaching or mentoring others in the organization.”

Q. Is it possible to make your work more stimulating and challenging, even if your job responsibilities aren’t likely to change?

A. Yes. Seek tasks and responsibilities that force you to learn something new or to work harder. “You may be operating on autopilot right now, but chances are people above you are stressed,” Ms. Hathorn says. “Offer to take things off your boss’s plate and let him know which projects or tasks you want to learn more about.”

Always frame your request positively, saying that you love new challenges, rather than complaining that you’re bored and underused, says Stacy L. Ethun, president of the Park Avenue Group, an affiliate of the executive search firm MRI Network.

Look at the company’s organizational hierarchy and find the person who has the job you’d like, then offer to lend that person a hand, Ms. Hathorn says.

Find a mentor who can help you understand the company’s needs and ultimately help you move to a higher level, says Rebecca Weingarten, a career coach and co-founder of DLC Executive Coaching and Consulting in New York. In your down time, educate yourself about the company and its industry. “Read corporate information, analyst reports and related news articles,” she says.

Ms. Hathorn suggests researching new tools or processes used by other companies that could save yours time or money. “If your boss incorporates your suggestions,” she says, “it will make him look better and make you a more valuable employee.”

Q. Can doing things you enjoy outside of work make you feel better when you’re on the job?

A. Absolutely. Because your job isn’t overly demanding right now, you have more time for things you like to do but may have neglected in the past, Ms. Kelly says. “Spend more time with family, take your dog on long walks, do volunteer work in the community or sing in the church choir,” she advises. We tend to define ourselves by our job titles, she says, but keep in mind that you are more than just your job.

Challenge yourself outside of work by taking on something you’ve always wanted to learn, by going to the gym or by dedicating more resources to a hobby or a side business. “You’ll be a happier, stronger person and that will be reflected in your attitude every day,” Ms. Ethun says.

Q. How can you tell whether it’s time to look for a position somewhere else?

A. If the organization isn’t promoting from within — or if others have been tapped for positions for which you were well qualified — it may be time to look elsewhere. It could be that there is a lack of opportunity for your particular skill set.

You may also find that the company’s culture or mission isn’t a good fit, Ms. Weingarten says. Ask yourself whether you like the way the company is run and the direction in which it’s moving. “Can you see yourself there five years from now?” she asks.

Q. How do you leave in a way that acknowledges your gratitude to the company and doesn’t engender resentment?

A. Give as much notice as you can — a month, for instance, is more considerate than two weeks, Ms. Pearl says. Meet privately with your boss and anyone at the company who has been important to you, and express gratitude for what you gained from the experience.

“Don’t tell them all the things you could have contributed or talk about how you were underleveraged all these months,” Ms. Pearl says. “You want to keep all those bridges open. You never know who your next boss will be.”

E-mail: ccouch@nytimes.com.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/08/jobs/08career.html?partner=rss&emc=rss