By Chua Kong Ho and Paul Panckhurst
“Tax data show much sharper deceleration in income and consumption in the past few months than suggested by official retail sales or income growth figures,” Goldman Sachs analysts Joshua Lu, Caroline Li and Fiona Lau wrote in a note today.
Value-added tax has “de-linked sharply” from retail sales figures, the analysts wrote. VAT rose 1 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, while retail sales gained 21 percent, according to the note.
China is trying to boost domestic spending to shore up its economy as recessions in the U.S. and Europe smother demand for its exports. The nation’s growth has slowed for six straight quarters, while outbound shipments slumped 17.5 percent in January, the most in almost 13 years, customs bureau data showed this month.
Growth in China’s individual income-tax receipts “slowed down significantly” in the second half and shrank in December and January, the Goldman Sachs analysts wrote. This compares with nominal wage growth of 21 percent in the third quarter, the report said.
“We think the government’s fiscal stimulus package announced so far may help create jobs, but may not necessarily help boost wages which, in our view, is the key driver of consumption growth,” the note said. “As such we are not hopeful that China’s consumption slowdown will bottom out soon.”