Daily Memo: China’s Year of Growth, Navalny’s Unwelcome Return

China is the only major economy to avoid a contraction in 2020, but things aren't as rosy as they seem.

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Chinese growth. China’s economy ended last year as if nothing interesting happened in 2020. Fourth-quarter growth registered at a brisk 6.5 percent year on year, bringing the country’s overall gross domestic product growth for the year to 2.3 percent. China is the only major economy to avoid a contraction last year. Industrial production, meanwhile, rose 7.3 percent in December. As usual with China, dig deeper into the data and you’ll find all sorts of landmines. Retail sales are slowing, for example, underscoring the reality that China cannot yet rely on its domestic market as much as it would like. More politically problematic, the income gap is as wide as ever. Navalny’s return. Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny returned to Russia from Germany – where he was seeking treatment after being poisoned – and was promptly detained on arrival. According to Russian police, he was arrested for violating the terms of his probation in the Yves Rocher fraud case. His arrest is sure to increase Western scrutiny of Moscow. Already, the European Union and United States have called for his immediate release. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said their statements were meant to divert attention from their domestic political problems. U.S. drawdowns. […]

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