China Economic Data Reliable If Flawed, Stanford’s Lazear Says

China’s export and gross-domestic-product data can be trusted even though they are not as reliable as U.S. numbers, said Stanford professor Ed Lazear.

“If you look at their trade numbers, they are highly volatile, but they do follow a pretty consistent pattern,” Lazear, a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers for President George W. Bush, said on Bloomberg Television’s “In the Loop” with Betty Liu. “The trend is right.”

China’s recent growth in exports caused concern from analysts at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and other firms that data from the nation may be unreliable. China reported a 14.1 percent export increase last month.

Last November, the Treasury Department said that China isn’t a currency manipulator under U.S. law, while the yuan is undervalued. The yuan has gained 12.6 percent in real terms against the dollar since June 2010, the Treasury Department said.

“China’s numbers are nowhere near as accurate as ours, their methodology is simply not at the same level as ours,” he said. “But we certainly know they’re growing at very high rates. I don’t worry too much about a half a percentage point or even a percentage point one way or another.”

The weak value of the yuan against the dollar doesn’t have a significant impact on trade, Lazear said.

“People tend to overplay exchange rates on exports,” Lazear said. “There is a lot of rhetoric. The exchange rates have some effect on trade, but the effects are small.”

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