Goldman joins Wall Street banks in cutting China's growth outlook as post-Covid bounce fades

Aerial photo shows the traffic flow on a viaduct in Nanjing, East China’s Jiangsu Province, June 16, 2023. (Photo by Costfoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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Goldman Sachs became the latest Wall Street bank to downgrade its growth forecast for China, as the world’s second-largest economy stutters and loses momentum after its coronavirus reopening.

The investment bank cut its full-year gross domestic product forecast for 2023 from 6% to 5.4%, noting further turbulence ahead for the economy. The recovery from its stringent Covid-19 lockdown measures continue to disappoint through soft economic data, as well as mounting pressure on its property sector.

While the firm sees further stimulus to come, it notes that the measures will not be enough to overcome the greater problems that it faces: weakened sentiment.

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“With continued challenges from the property market, pervasive pessimism among consumers and private entrepreneurs, and only moderate policy easing to partially offset the strong growth headwinds, we mark down our 2023 real GDP forecast,” economists led by Chief China Economist Hui Shan said in research note Sunday.

The latest revision from Goldman Sachs follows the likes of UBS, Bank of America and JPMorgan who have all downgraded their China full-year GDP estimates.

Goldman Sachs’ economists added that there are a slew of macroeconomic issues facing the nation.

“With the reopening boost quickly fading, medium-term challenges such as demographics, the multi-year property downturn, local government implicit debt problems, and geopolitical tensions may start to become more important in China’s growth outlook,” they said.

It also sees further weakness in the Chinese yuan against the U.S. dollar due to rate differentials with the People’s Bank of China expected to ease its monetary policy further while the Federal Reserve is hinting at more rate hikes to come.

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UBS also sees continued weakness in China’s economy ahead, particularly focusing on the second quarter of the year.

“Q2 [second quarter] sequential growth may slow to only 1-2% quarter-on-quarter saar [seasonally adjusted annual rate], weaker than our earlier expectation of 4.5%,” UBS Investment Bank’s Chief China economist Wang Tao said in a Friday note.

Wang noted that uncertainty in China’s property sector remains a central risk to its forecast and could bring its growth outlook even lower.

“Risks to our forecast is slightly biased towards the downside, mainly from uncertainties in property market and path of property policy support ahead, as well as weaker external demand,” she said.