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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was impressed enough with this cogent, well organized work, that I've already recommended that our reference department acquire a copy (mid-sized public university in the midwest).

The first thing I checked were the bona fides of the author (Tom Orlick). His pedigree includes being a "China correspondent" for the Wall Street Journal, an advisor to the UK Deputy Directory of the International Monetary Fund, and one of his essays on the quality of Chinese statistics is required reading by the staff of China's National Bureau of Statistics. Also, throw in degrees from London's University College and Harvard University.

The intrinsic strength of the book is its cogent and consistent layout as it examines 35 financial indicators. Each chapter is formatted using the same template which is explicitly described at the end of chapter 1. The template includes these, and other sections: What is the indicator? Where can you get it? How often does it come out? Why is it important?

- Begin abridged example of an indicator -

Real Estate Prices, Investment, Sales, and Construction

MARKET SENSITIVITY: High
WHAT IS IT? Monthly report on prices . . . investement . . . sales . . .
CHINESE NEWS RELEASE ON THE INTERNET: [...]
ENGLISH NEWS RELEASE ON THE INTERNET: [...]
RELEASE TIME: . . . price data released on the 18th of the month
FREQUENCY: Monthly . . .
SOURCE: NBS
REVISIONS: No

Why is it important? (2 pages of background explanation)
How is the data calculated? (1.5 pages of explanation)
Interpreting the Data (5 pages of explanation including charts and graphs of sample data)
Market Impact: (.5 page explaining impact on equity, commodity, and currency markets)

- End Example -

Each of the 35 indicators gets the identical treatment.

Niggling complaints: The index is not very useful (I recommend using the table of contents). E.g., there was no main entry for the term "Inflation"; entry for "tobacco spending" directs to page 92 but information is on page 90. I would also prefer a glossary (so I'm ignorant as to what "YoY" stands for).

I still give this incredibly useful work 5 stars. I would love to see similar treatment of the same economic indicators for other countries, including the United States. This is a must buy for any academic library with a business program, especially those specializing in international business.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover
There are a lot of books on the Chinese economy out there that start with a theory or an agenda. This one "teaches you to fish" so you can easily keep tabs on China's macro data yourself. The author takes a realistic and balanced attitude towards the official data, and helps clarify when to be trustful and when to be skeptical. There are a lot of examples taken from recent economic events illustrating how different indicators behaved in different circumstances, and guidance on how to look at different indicators together, or compare similar ones, to get a more complete picture of what really might be going on. The book is organized in such a way that you can read through it to get an overall picture, and easily refer back to the discussion of a particular indicator when you want to check something. The writing is lively and to my knowledge this kind of practical analysis information is not available elsewhere. Highly recommended for anyone following China's economy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A thorough exposition on interpreting difficult statistics from the second largest economy in the world. The author has produced a well-reasoned and insightful perspective on China's often misunderstood economic data with a focus on informing concrete investment decisions. Highly recommended reading for anyone investing in or following the economy of the Middle Kingdom.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Tom Orlik's UNDERSTANDING CHINA'S ECONOMIC INDICATORS offers a fairly statistics-intensive overview of the world's most-populated nation. In a world economy is which China is on track to become the most influential country (we've all heard the "the China century" being knocked around). Americans should educate themselves about the such particulars as the "National Output," "Investment and Real Estate," "Labor Markets," and "Prices."

To provide the graphs, tables and other economic measurements, reliance on China's own data collection and publication was necessary. However, since China is a Communist country, and as such is still in large part a managed/planned economy, the question arises about the reliability of the numbers in and of themselves and in comparison with statistical data in the U.S. or Europe. The author's answer is, "The reality of China's economic data today is not the crude controlling hand of the Politburo dictating the GDP growth figure." He concedes it isn't perfect but assures the reader, "neither is it a farce."

Some of the book's tables contain type too small to be read without a magnifying glass (at least for eyes over age forty). Two examples are found on pages 116-117, in the section on Trade. Still, for American readers this may be one of the most relevant areas of interest. As with other topics, Orlik walks the reader through how the data is collected, and here because U.S. trade with China is so important to both countries, U.S. figures play a part in this analysis. Table 5.5 cites monetary figures for exports and imports to various countries and illustrates very well that "[e]xports are a key driver of growth in the Chinese economy." This not news of course, but this book illustrates that with statistics, not just words.

Orlik has compiled what would be a good textbook for econ students studying China. It is also worthwhile for anyone who likes digging into a country's economic indicators. What kind of lending trends are there? How do prices fluctuate? What are the components of the consumer price index in China? What are the average wages of workers in in "Urban, Non-Private Units?"

But the subtitle of this book is TRANSLATING THE DATA INTO INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES. This isn't just for college or the armchair economist. This is also for business people who want to understand this economic giant and turn the knowledge to advantage. To do business with another country, one should understand as much as possible about that country. Economic understanding is key and this relatively thin volume provides it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
China is a difficult country to understand. Lack of transparency, singly party dictatorship, communist history, ancient culture, complex language etc. makes it impossible for non-Chinese to figure on what is going on there. However, as next economic superpower, China cannot be ignored.

This book is an excellent reference book to analyze and tract the indicators of China's economy. The different chapters cover the different aspects of the economy such as national output (GDP, Industrial Value added, Fiscal Revenue & Expenditure....), Investment and Real Estate, Household Sector (Retail Sales, Consumer sentiment....), External Sector (Trade, FDI, Reserves...), Labor Market, Prices and so on. The information on each indicator is covered in detail with excellent description of what it means (currency, units, period, etc), market sensitivity (High, Medium or Low), Release time, availability, frequency, source and so on. The author then shows how the data is calculated, why it is important and how it should be interpreted. If you want to track China's economy this book is a must for you. Written for the professional, the book will also be useful for students as well as laymen who are willing to take the effort.

The author shows that how important China is to the World economy and how the global markets are moved by China's data. It used to be said that when the U.S sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold. Now as this book shows, it is the China tail wagging the U.S dog.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Author Tom Orlik deserves credit for tackling the big subject of China's Economic Indicators. Our economic indicators in the U.S. are difficult enough to understand and like China, there are so many of them. The question Orlik faced deals with the usefulness of these indicators which are based data that might not be correct. Orlik explains that the data is increasingly less incorrect.

There are loads of charts in this book. There are indicators for labor, households, real estate, economic output, trade supluses and so on. I liked the explanations of the data underlying each of the many charts.

It bothers me that as Orlik wrote, "The government has never admitted any problems with the data." There are always problems with data. I know because I produce data in my work, and revisions occur in everything for a variety of reasons often beyond anybody's control. The fact that China does not revise GDP, for example, is not reassuring.

I recommend this book for the many economists and market professionals that have to make sense of world macro matters to inform decision makers regarding their own economic choices. I think Orlik rose to the challenge of explaining the data China produces. I'm also not aware of a way to accurately handicap the data for veracity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 20, 2011
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
China has a highly unethical track record of disseminating economic information, and this much-needed book will help you navigate through the house of smoke & mirrors which is China's economy.

Mr Orlik has done a first-rate job of detailing the various economic indicators, with special emphasis on China's finally bringing some major data into line with international standards; e.g. GDP calculated with seasonally adjusted annualized rate. An of course, quarterly GDP being the most complete reflection of the Chinese economy.

Also covers many other high-sensitivity indicators, their reliability, ad how to utilize them to best analyze the current state of this purposefully obstructionist burgeoning superpower. But I'd still be very careful before investing in U.S.-listed Chinese issues; if the macroeconomic indicators require a book like this one, you can only imagine how upfront most Chinese firms are with their notorious "three ledger" accounting system.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 31, 2011
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This perfected organized 249 page is great way to look at the huge, seemingly impossible to understand economy of China. It provides easy to read and follow data on import/ export; wages; consumer info; real estate values and trends; labor; buisness growth and opportunities; banking and lending; industrial output and manufacturing; and just about any and all items asociated with the massive economy of China. Better yet, many easy to understand charts and data is also included. So whether you're considering major investments, or like myself, are more an armchair citizen curious about China, this is a "can't lose" book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a must-read book on China's economic indicators. Not just for the stats geeks, but for every investor, economist, journalist and globally-aware citizen out there. Developments in China's economy move markets, and this book provides a clear insight into a much-misunderstood economy. And, surprisingly for a book on statistics, a very enjoyable read. Highly recommended.

Alistair Thornton, China Analyst, IHS Global Insight. Beijing, China.
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Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Tom Orlik has made a career of studying China's economic data, and he lays out what he has learned about 35 key indicators in "Understanding China's Economic Indicators". China moves markets these days, but how reliable are its economic data, and what do the numbers really mean? Orlik answers these questions in chapters dedicated to National Output, Investment and Real Estate, Household Sector, External Sector, Labor Markets, Prices, and Financial Indicators. He introduces each indicator by saying whether it is of high, medium, or low sensitivity, what it measures, where and when you can find the data online, and the source of the statistic. That is followed by detailed explanations of why it is important, how it is calculated, and how to interpret the numbers. Orlik concludes with comments on the indicator's impact on equity, commodity, and currency markets.

Along with explanations of where these numbers come from are explanations of why they are in doubt, or, in some cases, why they are on solid ground. Occasionally, Orlik will say that the data are plain wrong, as in the case of unemployment, but usually he is pointing out biases in the statistics. It is not always clear what one should make of it, but that is the nature of the beast. Orlik explains why he is skeptical of the data, or not. The book's subtitle, "Translating the Data into Investment Opportunities", is optimistic. You'll have to do the translating yourself, for the most part. This isn't an investment guide. But Orlik's analysis of how the data are likely to affect markets is helpful, and the book is essential reading if you are planning to invest in Chinese equities or indexes, the Chinese yuan or Australian dollar, or metals.

There are a lot of things to put on your economic calendar here, but the book doesn't just tell you what to check; it offers insight into how these markets work inside China. There is a lot of information that is not obvious, even if you normally read the data in the Financial Times, which makes this a good, though dense, book for reading as well as for reference. I don't have the expertise to agree or disagree with Tom Orlik's analyses or to know if he has left anything important out. But I like the book very much, partly due to its excellent organization. It is easy to find the information I am looking for. If you're just interested in how an indicator will move a market, look up the indicator, go to Market Impact, then backtrack to learn more if you want. Or read the whole section through to learn something about the world's second-largest economy.
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