The Daily Mail reports that optimism defeats slowdown in Shanghai.
Optimism defeats slowdown in Shanghai
The economic recession seems to have disappeared from the streets of Shanghai. At least, that's the way it feels. With the Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, just around the corner, walk the city streets, and you'll have optimism walking right beside you.
The cheerfulness is remarkable, considering the grave challenges posed by a sagging global economy that is sending lingering shockwaves - stock market in doldrums with no recovery in sight, closure of factories, rising unemployment, and shrinking year-end bonuses.
The city's restaurants are probably the best place to get a feel of the upbeat mood.
If you're planning to eat out these days, you'd better book way in advance. A table in any of your favorite eateries won't come easy this coming week.
Ask me. I've been struggling to find a place to host a birthday party and a family reunion during the Chinese New Year.
It's not that people here are eating out less due to the economic slowdown. On the contrary, most restaurants are fully booked even the day before the Chinese New Year's eve, which is unheard of.
Many families have booked tables two nights in a row, which is also uncommon.
Spring Festival is very much about eating and reunions.
It's a misconception that the financial crisis has forced people here to tighten their purses. Walk in to any of the shopping malls here and you'll see hundreds of men and women carrying multiple bags of branded clothing.
While department stores are overflowing with the fashion-conscious youngsters hoping to score branded goods on sale ahead of the festival, the food stores are packed with housewives, filling up their baskets with hams, fruits, chocolates and roasted seeds.
People are spending on traveling as well. Flights from Shanghai to destinations like Sanya, Harbin, the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand are already sold out. The only place that seems to be losing appeal this year is Thailand, still haunted by the recent political riots.
As usual, the festive mood is never complete without the sound of firecrackers. And so, some 1,800 licensed stores in town have lined up some of the most glorious sparklers, hoping for a decorated New Year sky.
The demand for crackers is huge. In the last six weeks, the police have confiscated more than 12,000 boxes of "illegal" fireworks.
My suggestion is, stay up late to witness splendid firework displays on at least three nights - Chinese New Year's Eve (Jan 25 midnight), the greeting of the God of Fortune (Jan 29 midnight), and the Lantern Festival (Feb 9), for, even if you try to sleep, you probably won't be able to.
While Mayor Han Zheng tried to give locals some hope and confidence, announcing measures to secure 9 percent GDP growth in 2009, community parks have also launched many Spring Festival celebrations, with big prizes on offer, in a bid to "restore confidence during the economic crisis", as park authorities have claimed.
The mercury in Shanghai will drop below freezing point during Spring Festival days, the meteorological bureau predicted. But the cheerful streets, restaurants and parks will provide people with the much-needed warmth.
A recent poll conducted by Gallup International ranked the Chinese city 2nd in the world after Kosovo in terms of optimism level for 2009. That coincides with the Chinese belief in the Year of the Ox, or niu in Chinese. Niu is associated with strength, hard-work and bullish markets.
China Daily reports that four fifths Chinese confident of economic prospect.
Four fifths Chinese confident of economic prospect
Updated: 2009-01-24 09:31
BEIJING - The majority of Chinese people are still confident of the country's development prospect in spite of the global economic downturn, a survey by the National Bureau of Statistics said.
More than 80 percent of the 10,000 people polled in 18 cities and 20 counties said they expect the country to maintain a steady and fairly fast economic growth despite the global financial crisis which has already started to affect China.
The survey, conducted in November, covered 500 urban residential communities and 100 townships and villages across the country.
The Chinese government announced a 4 trillion-yuan economic stimulus package in November aimed at boosting domestic demand.
Over 90 percent of the respondents said they are "very confident" or "fairly confident" of the country's development orientation and prospect on the road of building socialism with Chinese characteristics.
About five sixths of the surveyed said they expect the country to have built a well-off society by the end of 2020.
Only five percent said they either do not have enough faith in the country's future development, or do not have any faith at all.
The survey also showed most of the people polled are satisfied with the government work in 2008.
More than 95 percent said they feel satisfied with the government's response in disaster relief during the snow storms in early 2008 and the May 12 earthquake centered in southwestern Sichuan Province. More than 80 percent said they are satisfied with how the government dealt with the Lhasa riot on March 14 last year.
China Daily reports that most Chineses multinationals not to cut staff in Q1.
Survey: Most multinationals not to cut staff in Q1
By Liu Jie (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2009-01-23 11:48
The majority of the multinational companies interviewed in a recent survey said they will unlikely cut staff in China, at least in the first quarter of 2009, despite the business downturn.
The report from Hudson, a global recruitment firm, surveyed 858 senior executives of China operations of multinational companies in different business sectors.
Thirty four percent of the respondents said that they will increase their companies' headcounts in 2009 first quarter, compared with 44 percent in the previous quarter survey, and 61 percent in the survey at 2008 first quarter.
The report said that 47 percent of the respondents said they were confident that their enterprises will do well in 2009. Only 8 percent of the respondents said business will slump.
China Daily reports that China's retail banking expects fast growth.
Report: China's retail banking expects fast growth
By Hu Yuanyuan (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2009-01-23 12:14
The size of China's retail banking is expected to exceed that of wholesale banking in five years, said a report from Celent, a research and consulting firm focused on the financial services industry.
Latest government figures showed that retail banking income of all mainland banks in 2007 increased by 46.9 percent from a year before to $84 billion, or 33 percent of total revenue and 27 percent of aggregate profits. [banks making a profit? Unbelievable]
The rapid increase in per capita income and investment channels, continuous improvement of the payment system, and relaxation of regulations regarding separate operations all contributed to the rapid growth in retail banking business, said Zhang Hua, a Celent analyst.
According to the Celent report, the deposit and lending business trends will include: the RMB deposit-taking business maintaining a 10 percent growth rate; foreign currency deposits dropping; the proportion of demand deposits continuing to grow; mortgages experiencing slow growth; and credit card loans having rapid growth, reaching $200 billion in 2010 to become the second largest loan business after mortgages.
China Daily reports that China's fixed assets may prop up economy.
Fixed assets may prop up economy
By Wang Bo (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-01-23 09:40
China's investor sentiment picked up in December despite the deceleration in the growth of the country's investment on fixed-assets, said Ma Jiantang, head of the National Bureau of Statistics in Beijing yesterday.
The overall fixed-asset investment grew 25.5 percent in 2008 year-on-year, up 0.7 percentage points from 2007.
The figure was 1.3 percentage points lower than the figure for the first 11 months of 2008 and 1.5 percentage points lesser than the first three quarters of 2008. Fixed-asset investment growth this year, however, is expected to maintain the same momentum as last year if the nation's economic stimulus packages have the desired effect, analysts said.
"Although the Chinese economy took a heavy blow from the ongoing financial crisis we have already seen some positive signs emerging from the investment sector, such as the rebound in investors' confidence in December," said Ma, who became NBS chief in September. He also quoted from a survey released by Netherlands-based financial group ING, which said investor sentiment index in China rose to 103 in the fourth quarter of 2008 from 88 in third quarter.
Fixed asset investment is a key driver of China's economic growth and accounts for 57 percent of the nation's total GDP in 2008.
As the export sector sagged due to deteriorating foreign demand in the wake of the global financial crisis, investment is expected to shoulder more in shoring up the slowing economy.
The central government unveiled a 4 trillion yuan capital investment plan on Nov 9 to combat the economic slowdown.
The plan envisages huge cash infusions for rural and urban infrastructure, welfare housing, healthcare services and other social safety net projects.
"The nation's fixed asset investment is expected to pick up in the next few months, as the stimulus package takes effect," said Li Jianwei, economist and director of the macroeconomics department of the Development Research Center under the State Council
My reaction: Optimistic is growing in China, with good reason. It will be easy and painless to fix the problem of underspending from which China suffers (solution is easy: you spend more!). By contrast, fixing the problem of overspending from which much of the West suffers will be extremely hard and painful.