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TheStreet Open House

China Is in a Recession - Dohmen's Market Views

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's expert contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

BEIJING ( Dohmen Capital Research )-- The headline on this article is obviously not what you hear from other analysts. They will be shocked. I expect ridicule, just as in 2007, when I wrote the book, Prelude to Meltdown, predicting a "1929 event" in 2008.

My opinion for years has been that you cannot trust economic data from governments. Usually, that's not very important, but with China, it is.

On Sunday, April 01, 2012, China announced that its official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) climbed to 53.1 from 51 the previous month. Analysts became very bullish again, assuming that this number is reliable.

However, at the same time the private PMI report from HSBC (HBC) shows that business activity contracted to 48.3 from 49.6 in February, both below the 50 dividing line.

HSBC's report covers mostly the SME's (small & mid-size enterprises) while the government report covers large firms, which are mostly owned by the government.

Here you can choose: Do you put more trust in the government statistics, or in those of a large, private firm?

Wall Street analysts responded: "The hard-landing view is now off of the table."

The latest report is the sixth consecutive month below 50, which shows actual contraction in manufacturing. I ask, how can manufacturing contract for six months, export growth plunge to almost no growth, bankruptcies soar, housing sales and prices collapse, but official GDP is reported to be growing at 8.1%?

I say that the statisticians in Beijing are working just as hard to fudge the numbers as those in Washington. They are using a false inflation number to adjust the "real GDP." But that doesn't change reality.

On April 12, the rumor out of China was that the GDP growth number to be released that evening would come in at a higher than expected 9%. Well, the actual number was a big disappointment, hitting a 3-year low of 8.1%. The Chinese have learned to play the Wall Street rumor game.

Now the focus of the bullish analysts is that the slowdown would prompt the Bank of China to loosen money, which would be bullish for the China markets. This is ridiculous. If bad economic news is bullish, than a depression would bring euphoria.

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