China Real Time, the Wall Street Journal's blog devoted to the world's second-largest country, has developed and launched China Econtracker, a valuable tool to access and understand economic data on the country.
Dealing with the statistical bureaus of the world's second-largest economy is even less pleasant than it sounds. So the Journal has created this well-organized, graphically effective and easy-to-use site. It organizes data by month-to-month and year-over-year presentations and users can switch from one to the other.
China Econtracker offers outlays of data based on gross domestic product, industrial value added, fixed asset investment, exports, imports, trade balance, foreign exchange reserves, consumer price index and bank credit.
It provides a source for each set of data and allows users to post the results to their Twitter account or Facebook page.
Whether your are among those likely to wind up "fighting it out with journalists at the State Council Information Office or getting lost for hours in the maze of Beijing's Internet" as Tom Orlik writes on China Real Time's post on the Econtracker, or just someone who wishes to be more informed about one of the most important economies on earth, the site looks to provide a real utility.
One commenter on the post, however, said:
"Chinese export statistics originate in individual customs declarations. These declarations include an ever expanding and now very likely statistically material amount of trade 'roundtripped' through Bonded Logistics Parks in China in order to realize export VAT refunds. One of the many reasons that this statistic, like any other in China, is simply not reliable."
Now, if you understand that enough to agree or disagree, you may not need this tool. For the rest of us, though, I still think it will prove useful, however reductive and unreliable statistical collections may be.