Chinese inflation hits highest rate since 2012

China’s consumer price index — a key gauge of retail inflation — hit 3.8 percent last month, the National Bureau of Statistics said. (AFP)
Updated 09 November 2019

Chinese inflation hits highest rate since 2012

  • The consumer price index — a key gauge of retail inflation — hit 3.8 percent last month
  • Producer prices, meanwhile, saw their steepest decline in two years

BEIJING: China’s consumer prices grew at their fastest rate in almost eight years in October driven by a spike in meat prices caused by an outbreak of African swine fever, according to official figures released Saturday.
The consumer price index (CPI) — a key gauge of retail inflation — hit 3.8 percent last month, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said, up from 3.0 percent in September and the highest annual rate since January 2012.
Analysts in a Bloomberg News poll had forecast a rate of 3.4 percent.
The spike has led the government to intervene to stabilize prices and guarantee supplies, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
“Chinese leaders are terrified of inflation,” Beijing-based research firm Trivium China said in a note, describing price rises as “one of the big drivers behind the 1989 Tiananmen protests.”
The inflation rate at the time of the student-led uprising stood at 18.25 percent.
Producer prices, meanwhile, saw their steepest decline in two years, sliding for a sixth straight month, hit by the trade war with the United States.
The producer price index (PPI) — an important barometer of the industrial sector that measures the cost of goods at the factory gate — contracted 1.6 percent in October from the previous year, the NBS said.
That came after prices shrank 1.2 percent in December, and represented the sharpest decline since August 2016.
Analysts in a Bloomberg poll had forecast producer prices would shrink 1.5 percent.


Lebanon removes banking secrecy rules to fight corruption

Updated 28 May 2020

Lebanon removes banking secrecy rules to fight corruption

  • The move opens the way for investigations into bank accounts of current and former officials such as Cabinet ministers

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s parliament approved on Thursday a law to remove decades-old banking secrecy rules in order to better fight rampant corruption that has pushed the country to the edge of economic collapse.
The move opens the way for investigations into bank accounts of current and former officials such as Cabinet ministers, legislators and civil servants, state-run National News Agency reported.
The restoration of stolen public money in the corruption-plagued nation has been a key demand of protesters who have been demonstrating since mid-October against Lebanon’s ruling elite, which they blame for widespread corruption and mismanagement.
The approval of the law came two months after the Cabinet approved a draft resolution to abolish the country’s banking secrecy laws, which have turned tiny Lebanon into the region’s Switzerland, attracting clients from around the Arab world who prized the anonymity its banks offered.
The new law gives powers to National Anti-corruption Commission and a Special Investigative Committee at the central bank to investigate bank account of officials, the report said.
For Thursday’s session, Lebanese lawmakers convened inside a Beirut theater so that they could observe social distancing measures imposed during the pandemic. Dozens of anti-government demonstrators briefly clashed with riot police outside as legislators met.
As lawmakers in face masks arrived at the theater, known as the UNESCO palace, paramedics sprayed them with disinfectant before they entered, one at a time.
Lebanon has been facing its worst economic crisis in decades, with unemployment figures soaring and the local currency losing more than half of its value against the dollar.
After the banking secrecy measure was passed, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri suspended the session until later in the afternoon when the legislators were to discuss a draft general amnesty law.
The amnesty issue has deeply divided parliamentary blocs, with Christian groups calling for pardoning Lebanese who fled to Israel after it ended its occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000, while former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and others want the release of hundreds of Islamists held as terror suspects.
Lebanon and Israel are at a state of war and some Lebanese who fled to Israel now hold Israeli citizenship. Scores of protesters demonstrated in Beirut and southern Lebanon on Thursday against pardoning those living in Israel.