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China slows down in first quarter

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If you believe the government numbers - and you can't completely since they're always inflated - the Chinese economy grew at a slower pace to start the year than it has in the past three. Many observers have been following some of the more trustworthy numbers, such as steel and iron ore purchases which indicate construction activity (and which are now flat). The lower growth numbers are still impressive numbers, but not impressive enough if China wants to keep up with its struggle to provide enough jobs for incoming workers.

The other concern is that the first quarter numbers are the fifth straight quarter of declining growth. That is a trend that nobody likes to see. It may not mean the economy is on the rocks, yet, but it does suggest that the Chinese bubble is no longer expanding. There are still plenty of economists who suggest this is part of a soft landing, rather than a hard crash -- but soft landings rarely happen in the real world, as we all known too well. China, in particular, doesn't do easy transitions. More on the latest numbers.

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