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Predictably, China’s Year-on-Year Growth Maintains Its Steady Pace

Jamie Florence

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Predictably, China’s Year-on-Year Growth Maintains Its Steady Pace

 

China said on Friday afternoon that it was revising its economic output data to take better account of fast-growing sectors like intellectual property, health care, tourism and so-called emerging industries. But Xing Zhihong, a spokesman for the National Bureau of Statistics, said on Monday morning that this was a continuing project that had not been applied to the second-quarter growth statistics.

China’s consistent growth also reflects the government’s constant intervention as officials try to reach predetermined targets for the country’s economy — currently 6.5 percent growth or better.

Keep On Lending

The biggest reason the Chinese economy keeps growing quickly is that the state-controlled banking system keeps pouring in loans, although the government began tapering the flow slightly during the second quarter.

Total social financing plus bonds, the broadest measure of credit, expanded 14.7 percent in June compared with the same month a year earlier. In most countries, that would be a breathtaking pace. But in China, it was actually a slight slowdown: Credit was up 15.3 percent in May from a year earlier.

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An iron and steel workshop in Hangzhou, China.

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Steven Shi/Reuters

The Communist Party Congress, which is held once every five years and chooses the country’s top leadership, will be in midautumn. So China’s leaders have been eager to keep the economy growing briskly at least until then.

China has many tools for managing a debt buildup. More than half of the credit in its economy consists of loans from state-controlled banks to state-owned enterprises. But Moody’s Investors Service downgraded China’s sovereign debt by a notch on May 24, expressing worry about the broader buildup of credit.

Factories and Services Surge

While a sizable chunk of China’s economy may depend these days on building roads and rail lines into the desert using borrowed money, industrial production and services are also strong.

Steel demand has been vigorous, especially in residential construction. Housing prices have surged in the past 15 months, ever since the government decided during a period of economic weakness in early 2016 to make it much easier for families to borrow for home buying. Some of the biggest cities, like Beijing, have recently tried to curb real estate speculation with administrative limits, but these rules have had limited effect, as credit has stayed plentiful. Overall industrial production rose 7.6 percent in June from a year earlier, the government announced on Monday morning, an unexpectedly faster tempo than May’s 6.5 percent.

Year-on-year growth in retail sales accelerated to 11 percent in June from 10.7 percent in May, while fixed-asset investment also picked up speed in June.

Trade Sustains Economy

Part of China’s economic health in the second quarter reflected robust exports, with demand beginning to recover in Europe and particularly the United States after a long period of depressed growth. But what counts in the overall economy is not the value of the exports but whether the trade surplus narrows or widens. In that respect, there were a few clouds on China’s horizon.

China’s imports rose 14.5 percent in the second quarter from the same period last year as prices soared for iron ore and other raw materials essential to Chinese manufacturing. Chinese exports rose only 9.1 percent in the second quarter.

The composition of Chinese exports also changed in ways that could intensify trade friction and affect China’s trade surplus. China is becoming even more dependent on exports to the United States, with sales reaching their second-highest level ever last month, trailing only September 2015.

Chinese imports from the United States have also risen, but most of the extra purchases have been oil and other raw materials, which create many fewer jobs than manufacturing.

President Trump promised during his campaign to create more American jobs through a more confrontational approach on trade toward China. But since taking office, he has focused more heavily on addressing North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and on very narrow trade talks involving industries like steel manufacturing and beef production.
Via: NYTimes

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Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda after Irma: ‘Barbuda is barely habitable’

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Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda after Irma: ‘Barbuda is barely habitable’

The small Caribbean island of Barbuda was hit by the full force of Hurricane Irma today, and its prime minister reports that there is “a lot of destruction, upwards of 90%.”

Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Barbuda and Antigua “was one of the first on the ground” after the Category 5 storm passed the island. Browne called the damage “unprecedented” and said that after the storm’s 185mph winds hit the community, that “Barbuda is barely habitable.”

During the storm, all communications with the nation were lost for 6 hours, but authorities were hopeful that Barbuda was doing alright, since its sister island Antigua was largely spared from the worst of Irma’s wrath.

At least one Barbuda citizen – an infant – has been reported killed by the storm, with Browne estimating that at least 60% of the population is now homeless. Search and rescue efforts are currently underway.

As of this writing, Irma has not slowed to a Category 4 and is expected to pass Puerto Rico soon. It is still unknown whether the storm will make landfall in Florida this weekend.

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Saudi Arabian Men Are Pulling Car Stunts So Dangerous They Could Kill Themselves

Riot Housewives

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Saudi Arabian Men Are Pulling Car Stunts So Dangerous They Could Kill Themselves

 

When it comes to entertainment in Saudi Arabia, there isn’t much.

Not only does the Middle Eastern country have a ban on alcohol (meaning no bars), but it doesn’t have any cinemas either. It makes sense, then, that young Saudi Arabian men in their late teens and early 20s are bored and looking for fun, excitement, and even adventure. That’s why some develop dangerous and sometimes deadly hobbies — namely, extreme car drifting.

These men take to the streets and pull insane (not the good kind) stunts at speeds up to 150 miles per hour or more with no regard to other drivers’ safety…

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…or for that matter, their own.

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Here’s a view of what it looks like from inside the car.

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Via: Viral Nova

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Trump’s Tweets on Puerto Rico Are a National Disgrace

Riot Housewives

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Trump’s Tweets on Puerto Rico Are a National Disgrace

Nothing shows leadership like attacking the victims of a deadly hurricane.

That’s what Americans learned on Saturday morning, waking up to the news that the president – already under fire for his administration’s inadequate response to Hurricane Maria’s devastation – is now lashing out at the mayor of San Juan.

From the safety and comfort of his New Jersey golf resort, Trump attacked Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz on Twitter. “The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” he rage-tweeted at 7:19 AM. With this sentence alone, the president politicized the unfolding tragedy in Puerto Rico, based on nothing but his bruised ego and bad headlines.

It seems almost grotesque that Trump views Cruz’s begging for help in saving lives as an attempt to make him look bad.

Cruz has emerged as a powerful voice for her city, and for the island by extension, as she has pleaded publicly for more relief efforts. She has not, in fact, been “nasty” to Trump or FEMA workers. On Friday on MSNBC, she made an emotional plea for help saying, “If anybody out there is listening to us, we are dying. And you are killing us with the inefficiency and the bureaucracy.” She wondered why the U.S., with all its military might and power, could not figure out the logistics for an island that is 100 miles long and 35 miles wide.

There have been at least 16 confirmed deaths in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, although that number is expected to rise. Most Puerto Ricans on the island are still without power, gas, food, or running water. Numerous media outlets have reported on the slow pace of relief efforts, which have already drawn comparisons to the Bush administration’s botched response to Katrina.. A report in the Washington Post, for example, explained how the president’s weekend at his golf club slowed his administration’s initial response to the disaster.

In the face of such a crisis, on social media our president chose to focus on what he called “such poor leadership” by Cruz. Never mind that the mayor has been seen wading through waist-high water trying to rescue stranded residents, and has gone on little sleep for over a week. Or that the three-star general in charge of leading the relief effort has stated that there are “not enough” troops and supplies on hand for the recovery. Even the acting head of Homeland Security, who had earlier claimed that Puerto Rico was a “good news story” has admitted that the relief effort is “not satisfactory.”

Yet the person the president chose to go after was a Latina, a woman of color who dared to call his administration out.

Still, Trump wasn’t finished. Not content to merely politicize a humanitarian crisis, he injected it with a note of thinly-disguised racism. Referring to the people of Puerto Rico, he tweeted that “They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.”

These words are shameful. If the president hadn’t been so busy last weekend tweeting about flags and football players, he would understand that what is happening in Puerto Rico is by default a community effort. The residents of Puerto Rico – about 3.5 million American citizens – went through the hurricane on their own. They have indeed been helping each other, searching for food and fuel, and looking for their loved ones in the absence of a more robust government response.

Leave it to our Race-baiter-in-Chief to resort to the tired tropes that minorities want everything done for them, that they’re lazy, and that they are dependent on the government. These sentiments are offensive in the best of times. In the wake of a catastrophic weather event, they are despicable. Coming from this president, they are yet another sign of his lack of empathy, his lack of respect for women, and his indifference to the concerns of Latinos.

Trump’s response to the mayor of San Juan reveals how unfit he is for office. He apparently cannot handle pressure without resorting to personal attacks on others. He seems to lack any sense of personal accountability. He is easily angered. Even when lives are literally at stake, he is still in his element behaving like a bully. As of today, Trump has hit a new point for unacceptable behavior – and provided his fellow Republicans with more opportunities to distance themselves from him.

And the saddest thing of all here? Trump’s personal pathologies will provide another distraction to the media from the humanitarian crisis unfolding on U.S. territory.

Trump’s latest tweets on Puerto Rico constitute a national disgrace. At a time of major national emergency, he has – again – shown the world just how small he really is.

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