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China to Avoid ‘Wide Fluctuations’ in Economy, Li Says

Li Keqiang, China's premier. Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg
Li Keqiang, China's premier. Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg

July 17 (Bloomberg) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the nation will seek to keep economic growth, employment and inflation within limits, avoiding “wide fluctuations,” without elaborating on what the government deems acceptable.

China should also develop a “scientific macroeconomic policy framework” to offer markets “stable predictability,” Li told a forum of advisers and executives yesterday, according to a summary of the event published on the government’s website.

Li’s comments, the first made public since the National Bureau of Statistics reported that economic growth slowed for a second quarter, signal he won’t let expansion slow too much, without indicating any immediate plans for stimulus. Gross domestic product rose 7.5 percent in the April-to-June period from a year earlier, putting at risk the official full-year target for the same pace.

Last month, Li’s government engineered a stress test on banks that prompted the nation’s broadest measure of credit to fall to a 14-month low in an interbank cash squeeze. China’s lack of transparency became a cause of worldwide concern as it rocked bond and commodity markets and helped wipe out $4.5 trillion in global equity value.

While China should continue restructuring its economy to promote sustainable growth, some economic fluctuation is “objectively inevitable,” Li said. China will focus on restructuring when the economy runs within the limits of growth and inflation, shifting to stabilizing growth or preventing inflation when those limits are approached, Li said.

Policy Direction

Li said China shouldn’t change policy direction because of short-term changes in economic indicators, losing rare opportunities to restructure, nor should it lack alertness and preparedness in case the economy slides out of a “reasonable” range or has “large swings.”

Li’s comments build on his remarks last week that the government should keep restructuring the economy as long as growth, employment and inflation stay within limits he didn’t specify.

Finance Minister Lou Jiwei added to confusion over the government’s target this year by saying last week that growth as low as 6.5 percent may be tolerable in the future. While the government in March set a 2013 growth goal of 7.5 percent, Lou said he’s confident 7 percent can be achieved this year.

The official Xinhua News Agency later amended its English-language report on Lou to say there’s no doubt that China can achieve this year’s growth target of 7.5 percent.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: William Bi in Beijing at wbi@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Monahan at amonahan@bloomberg.net

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