While the US is squeaking out some minor good news with the economy, China is now staring down the ugly side of the economy. With little hope of a strong rebound in Europe (or the US) the export machine has trouble ahead. Without very high growth every quarter along with high jobs growth, China will have very serious problems. Add to this the softening real estate situation and we may be finally seeing the bubble burst in China.
Exports fell 0.5% from a year earlier to $149.9bn (£94bn), while imports were down 15% at $122.7bn, customs data showed on Friday. China's politically sensitive global trade surplus tripled compared with a year earlier to $27.3bn. Analysts expected January trade to fall due to the Lunar New Year holiday, the country's most important holiday. Chinese exporters rushed out orders in December and then shut down for two weeks or more in January. But the import decline was sharper than expected, suggesting that even with the holiday factored in, the world's second-largest economy is slowing markedly. China is a major buyer of iron ore, oil and other commodities and industrial components, meaning any downturn could hurt suppliers such as Australia, Brazil and South Africa.