Over My Shoulder

Political Alpha: Why China’s PMIs May Deceive You This Spring

April 28, 2014

Here’s an explosive letter from our friends at Political Alpha, which is Richard Medley's legacy firm and still one of the elite political intelligence/analysis firms on the Street.

It was passed to me last week by Leland Miller at China Beige Book, one of the finest China-focused economists in the world today – with some of the most granular data by sector and region. If you are able & willing to pay his six-figure annual subscription fee, Leland’s work will blow your mind and dramatically change your perspective. For the rest of us, this report recommendation can at least point us in the right direction.

China watchers too often focus on a handful of questionable economic data points and, in particular, tend to trade reactively around manufacturing PMI releases as a monthly proxy for the broader economy… but very few economists and investors realize that in China “Not only is manufacturing no longer the bellwether of the economy, more often than not it now performs counter-cyclically.”

I’ll let you read the report for yourself, but it highlights a critical point from our latest China update: “The investor’s dilemma is that there is really no way to know what is happening in China today, much less what will happen tomorrow. The primary data is flawed at best, manipulated at worst, and there seem to be a lot of inconsistencies when we compare official data to more concrete measures of economic activity.”

I am really excited to be able to take Thoughts from the Frontline readers through a one-time deep dive into Leland’s data in the coming weeks, but this report from Political Alpha will give you a sneak peak as my thoughts evolve into the next China letter.

Download - PA_China_PMIs_Will_Deceive_You_April_2014.pdf