China's Macroeconomy: Time Series Data

As of September 2016, we have updated our macroeconomic data set, available here for download. We have reconfigured the data to reflect annual, quarterly, and monthly frequencies and will update it semiannually.We rewrote the readme_data201608.txt file to reflect these changes along with corrections of previous errors. Additionally, we have added more charts, one for China monetary policy stance and one for the predictions of economic growth and inflation in China.

Since the late 1990s, China's investment share of gross domestic product (GDP) has increased while the corresponding shares for consumption and both labor and household income have declined (chart titled "Chinese Data Trend over the Past Two Decades). These changes in trends have been accompanied by sharp changes in cyclical patterns as well; as shown in the chart titled "10-year Rolling Correlations of Consumption and Investment," the strong positive correlation between investment and household consumption broke down in the late 1990s. The model laid out in "Trends and Cycles in China's MacroeconomyOff-site link," by Chun Chang, Kaiji Chen, Daniel F. Waggoner, and Tao Zha, can account for these facts. The authors argue that these changes began in March 1996, when the Eighth National People's Congress passed a historic long-term plan to adjust the industrial structure for the next 15 years in favor of strengthening heavy industries. Preferential credit policies to heavy industries—where local governments have made implicit guarantees of long-term bank loans to that sector—have crowded out short-term loans to smaller firms. Consistent with this crowding-out effect, the chart entitled "New Bank Loans to Nonfinancial Enterprises as a Percent of GDP" shows that the correlation between short-term loans and medium- and long-term loans as shares of GDP has been negative since the early 1990s.

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  • Frequently Asked Questions

    What are the original sources for these data sets?
    Most of the data are pulled from the CEIC (China Economic Information Center, now belonging to Euromoney Institutional Investor Co. database—one of the most comprehensive macroeconomic data sources for China) and the Wind Info database (the data information system created by the Shanghai-based company Wind Co. Ltd., often referred to as the Chinese version of Bloomberg). The major original sources for our quarterly and annual data sets are China's National Bureau of Statistics and Ministry of Finance and the People's Bank of China.

    Why should I use this data instead of data made available directly from Chinese statistical and government agencies?
    We encourage users to download data from these agencies whenever it is available. However, many key Chinese macroeconomic variables—such as gross domestic product (GDP) measured by the expenditure approach and its major subcomponents like consumption and private investment—are either only available annually or unavailable altogether. Moreover, for data that is available at the quarterly frequency, seasonally adjusted data and/or levels rather than year-over-year percent changes are often not available. Our goal is to construct and provide a standard set of annual and quarterly macroeconomic time series comparable to those commonly used in the macroeconomic literature on OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) economies.

    Why can't I find a variable in the online data sets documented in the manuscript by Higgins and Zha?
    The Higgins and Zha manuscript is a very preliminary draft and identical variables in that paper may be named differently in the Chang, Chen, Waggoner, and Zha data sets. In future drafts of Higgins and Zha, we plan to modify the variable names to be consistent with these data sets.

    Why can't I find a variable in the manuscript by Higgins and Zha in the data sets posted here?
    The data sets described in Higgins and Zha are somewhat larger than those used for Chang, Chen, Waggoner, and Zha. Only variables that are used in Chang, Chen, Waggoner, and Zha are included in the online data set. Future updates may include a broader set of variables.

    Why are there separate annual and quarterly data sets?
    As of September 2016, we have reconfigured our data to be available at annual, quarterly and monthly increments. Annual Chinese macroeconomic data generally aren't available in increments as short as quarters, in contrast with their macroeconomic counterparts. For example, annual nominal GDP measured by the value-added approach begins in 1952 while the quarterly measure begins in the first quarter of 1992. Which measure is best to use depends on the application at hand.

    How frequently will you update these data sets?
    We plan to make regular semiannual updates to the data sets and maintain earlier vintages.

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