For more than four decades, China has never acknowledged that its economy actually shrank, even during major economic crises. But that may change on Friday, when the country announces gross domestic product for the January-to-March quarter.
China’s National Bureau of Statistics already confirmed last month that domestic industrial production, retail sales and investment all suffered record, double-digit drops in the first two months of this year compared with the same period of 2019. That has prompted most, though not all, economists to guess that overall economic performance for the first quarter of this year will show a decrease from a year earlier.
The question is how big a drop it will be.
One survey of 18 Chinese and foreign institutions by Caixin, a Chinese news organization, found that they were forecasting that the economy was anywhere from flat to down 11.5 percent in the first quarter. The average forecast was for a drop of 6.6 percent.
A broader survey by Reuters of 57 analysts found an even wider range of predictions — anywhere from a nose-dive of 28.9 percent to a gain of 4 percent. But the average in the Reuters survey, a loss of 6.5 percent, was practically identical to Caixin’s.
Foreign banks, which come under only slightly less political pressure than Chinese institutions to issue sunny forecasts, have tended to be at the bearish end of the range.
Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.
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Reporting was contributed by Michael M. Grynbaum, Alexandra Stevenson, Davey Alba, Neil Irwin, Nelson D. Schwartz, Liz Alderman, Alan Rappeport, Kate Kelly, Keith Bradsher, Niraj Chokshi, Caitlin Dickerson, Miriam Jordan, Jim Tankersley, Stacey Cowley, Emily Cochrane, Emily Flitter, Reed Abelson, Sapna Maheshwari, Ben Casselman, Noam Scheiber, Geneva Abdul, Mohammed Hadi, Carlos Tejada and Mike Ives.