Fat Dragon was chuffed to see the National Bureau of Statistics finally starting to catch up with reality with its December announcement that the Chinese economy is nearly 20% bigger than previously reported.
Fat Dragon, along with many much more respectable China-watchers, has long considered this to be the case. Quite apart from all the statistical anomalies which pointed to it, the official figures failed Fat Dragon's basic test for gross domestic product growth.
That is the simple "stick your head out the window" test, which could have been conducted anywhere in China in recent years, and not just on the stereotypically-booming coast.
The increase announced by the NBS has been put down to the undercounting of services in the economy. If you were being uncharitable, you might say this really means that the NBS finally started to visit KTV clubs and realized just how much money is pumped through them for an array of services not often advertised at the front door.
It is also likely that the economy is even larger than the newly announced figure, because of the off-the-radar private economy fuelled by loans from underground banks; and the general undercounting of industrial output. China still has a largely production-based tax system for companies, so there is more than ample incentive for enterprises to underreport their output and they do.
Still, the much-maligned NBS must be given some credit for pushing their very large reality check about the Chinese economy through a bureaucracy well known for its obstructive tendencies. The National Development and Reform Commission, the remnants of the old planning ministry, was not happy to hear about the economy's new larger size just weeks after they had put together guidelines for their five-year economic plan.
Nor would all the Chinese officials wandering around the world lecturing foreigners about China's peaceful rise be thrilled to have to explain a few extra billion dollars of peaceful development added onto the economy overnight.
But the NBS has battled for years to make itself into a more professional body and the announcement bears this out. Even if the Chinese economy is larger still, few doubt that the new bigger figure and its components present a more accurate picture than before.
The NBS in Beijing has also had to wear all the opprobrium for the exaggerated statistics produced by cities and provinces, which have outstripped the national figures for many years.
The reason for that is simple. Local officials get marked up or down by economic growth, so naturally, they make sure that they have the figures to show they have it, whether they do or not.
As the old saying goes, officials make statistics and statistics make officials. On this occasion, though, even an old cynic like Fat Dragon believes that credit should be given where credit is due to the long-suffering doufu-counters at the NBS.
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