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Even a Slower China Still Added a Full Swedish Economy in 2015

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China just posted the slowest annual economic growth in 25 years. But for all the doom and gloom, its 2015 increase in output alone would rank as one of the world's largest economies.

Gross domestic product rose the equivalent of about $645 billion last year at the average exchange rate for 2015, according to Bloomberg calculations from government data released Tuesday. 

Put another way, that's almost triple the size of the entire shrinking Greek economy, according to economist estimates and World Bank data.

Break out China's growth as its own country and it's right on the heels of the $700 billion Swiss economy and bigger than Sweden, which is nearing $600 billion.

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While China's slumping stock markets and currency have rattled investors around the globe and sparked fears of a new slowdown, it's deceleration so far has been relatively gradual, going from 7.3 percent in 2014 to 6.9 percent last year. 

In an update to its global economic forecasts, the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday said it expects China to slow to 6.3 percent in 2016.  While that's behind the 7.5 percent tipped for India, it's well ahead of the 4.3 percent growth rate expected for emerging and developing economies as a whole. 

Speaking in Hong Kong on Tuesday, former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke downplayed concerns over China's slowing growth. "The overall slowdown doesn’t look to be so severe to really threaten the global economy at this point," Bernanke said at a forum.

Instead, China's making a crucial shift from an economy driven by debt-fueled investment and heavy industry to one juiced by consumption and services.

"You have to have a transition to more services if you want to keep the economy growing and providing jobs," Bernanke said. "You can't continue to grow by 10 percent by building new dams."

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