China's CPI Falls: Is Inflation Under Control?

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BY STEVEN SPARKMAN Economic news from China -- the government has announced the first findings showing t...
BY STEVEN SPARKMAN Economic news from China -- the government has announced the first findings showing the country might finally have inflation under control. CNBC’s Jim Cramer hailed the news. “We heard overnight that the most important Consumer Price Index number in the world -- the Chinese CPI -- actually went down sequentially to 6.2% from 6.5% the previous month. Which means it’s possible that China is finally starting to get its grip on the inflation that has hurt that economy.” The lower CPI reflects the Chinese government’s tightening measures. The New York Times reports-- Chinese officials have been trying to put the breaks on an economy they say was overheating. “The government has been aggressively working to tame inflation for much of the year. China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China, has repeatedly raised interest rates and bank reserve requirements to drain excess money out of the system, and restricted purchases of property to dampen land speculation.” If the CPI stays low in the coming months, the government is expected to loosen some of its banking policies. An economist tells the Financial Times -- thanks to those same policies, the country is now in a good position to handle the world economy’s challenges. “If there were another big shock out of Europe, for example, then Beijing has 21 per cent of the country’s bank deposits on hand … As long as inflation is contained, they can flick a switch and inject hundreds of billions of renminbi into the economy if they need to.” But some analysts looking at the details -- like how the CPI drop mostly reflected a decrease in food prices -- say the August numbers aren’t enough to start a policy change. The Wall Street Journal quotes a Citigroup analyst, saying: “...although inflation is expected to fall more significantly in [the fourth quarter], average inflation this year will almost certainly exceed 5%, overshooting the government comfort range of 4%-5%.Therefore, we do not expect generalized loosening of the monetary policy.” And analyst Ben Simpfendorfer tells Bloomberg -- despite the CPI numbers, real inflation in China is actually still going up, so loosening policies makes even less sense. “It is getting worse and its the type of inflation that isn’t measured by the CPI. As you point out its wages, land costs, raw material costs -- these aren’t captured in the CPI. ... The risks of a hard landing are growing. Inflation will be the trigger for that hard landing.” Keep up to date with Newsy by ensuring you're using the latest version of our mobile apps. Check the app store for updates now! Transcipt by Newsy.