from Follow the Money

More bad news from Asia

February 27, 2009

Blog Post

Even the portions of Asia that relied less on exports aren’t looking quite as good any more. The FT reports that India seems to be decelerating. Malaysia didn’t grow in the fourth quarter. And "Thailand’s exports and industrial production fell at a record pace in January."

Frederic Neumann, Asia chief economist at HSBC, told the FT

The collapse in Asian exports over the fourth quarter was “nothing short of breath-taking”, said “Economic models and experience suggest that financial turmoil tends to transmit far more gradually into the real economy than has occurred this time around. In fact, the severity and rapidity of the fall in output exceeds anything we have ever seen before.”

That seems exactly right to me.

Throw in some indirect evidence that China slowed quite sharply at the end of last year, and there isn’t yet much evidence that Asia is going to help pull the rest of the world out of its slump. Right now Asia’s sharp deceleration implies it is adding to the forces that are pulling the global economy down, not propping it up. The IMF’s global forecasts -- which presume that growth in India and China keep output in the emerging world from falling as sharply as it is expected to fall in the mature economies -- consequently still seem on the optimistic side.

UPDATE: BNP Paribas’ chief economist also finds the IMF’s forecast too optimistic, and now anticipates negative global growth for 2009. BNP Paribas also now forecasts the downturn in growth in the emerging world will be far larger than the downturn in the 97-98 emerging market crisis.