China announced Tuesday that its economy notched 6.9 percent growth in 2015 — down from the prior year, but perfectly matching expectations. And yet commentary from around the world suggests almost no outside investor or economist believes Beijing's figures.
Although there has never been definitive evidence that Chinese economic data is exaggerated, the widely-held theory says that China's National Bureau of Statistics will overstate growth in a stability-minded effort to hide the truth about a slowing economy. So instead of relying on government reports, China-watchers analyze other metrics for a more complete picture of the country's GDP.
"Nobody knows for sure, but when we look at things that are harder numbers to fudge...our estimate is growth probably about 3.5 percent versus roughly 7," said Gary Shilling, president of economic research firm A. Gary Shilling and Co.