China and the World Economy: Dept. Of Rosy Glasses Optimism

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Just got this from Merrill Lynch. Given economists (and fund managers) recent track record on predicting the course of future economic development, I am a little skeptical, to put it mildly. But who knows? Maybe the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t an approaching train:

FEBRUARY 18, 2009, NEW YORK AND LONDON – Fresh optimism over China’s growth prospects has led to a marked improvement in economic sentiment globally, according to the Merrill Lynch Survey of Fund Managers for February.

Investors are at their most hopeful about the year ahead since the credit crunch took hold in July 2007, with the number who forecast a worsening economy in the 12 months ahead falling to a net -6 percent. This compares with a net -24 percent in January. The majority recognises, however, that the world economy is in recession.

Fears of a prolonged slowdown in China appear to be fading. The number of investors who predict lower growth in China over the coming 12 months has fallen sharply, to a net 21 percent in February from a net 70 percent in January.

Similarly, severe pessimism about the outlook for corporate earnings has started to ease. A net 43 percent of respondents expect to see deteriorating profits over the coming year, significantly lower than the 63 percent who held that view in December. A net 49 percent of the panel predicts inflation will fall over the coming 12 months, compared with 64 percent in January and 82 percent in December.

“Fund manager expectations for Chinese economic growth rose dramatically to their highest levels since 2007, and faint global decoupling hopes now reside solely with China,” says Michael Hartnett, chief Global Emerging Markets Equity strategist at Banc of America Securities-Merrill Lynch Research.