Global Economic Outlook Hinges on China


After years of stringent COVID restrictions, China’s reopening quickly became one of the key forces expected to influence the global economy in 2023.

The International Monetary Fund said at the start of the year that China and India would combine for half of the total global growth.

Despite China’s importance to the global economy, the quality of its official economic data is seen as questionable (or worse) by many observers.

Investors and traders want third-party data covering China that is objective, reliable and timely. It’s an understandable request, though not easily satisfied.

One solution rests on data sourced from satellite imagery analytics, including synthetic aperture radar (SAR). For example, Ursa Space uses SAR data to measure China’s crude oil inventories, which provides valuable signals for the oil market and insight into broader economic activity.

In fact, we measure crude oil inventories at more than 1,100 locations around the world. It is one of the data layers that is included in Ursa’s Global Monitoring Service (GMS).

Ursa Space leverages unique relationships with satellite data vendors and its own trusted analytic algorithms to create an out-of-the box subscription service.

We have selected areas of strategic importance in widely-followed regions, and continuously collect satellite imagery over these hotspots.

One example is Ningbo-Zhoushan, the third busiest container port in the world, located across the Hangzhou Bay from Shanghai.

From the Ningbo-Zhoushan port, ship routes cover more than 600 destinations in over 100 countries, handling crude oil, coal, iron ore, fertilizers, grain, timber, metals, and chemicals.

The port’s role also includes facilitating internal trade. It’s close to the Yangtze River, a critical waterway for much of inland China. And there are railway connections linking Ningbo-Zhoushan with 54 cities, creating efficient sea-rail services.

Ursa customers can utilize GMS to better understand what is happening at Ningbo-Zhoushan.

We apply our proprietary analytics, including vessel detection, change detection and object detection to create data packages that are fully integrable into existing platforms. A customer can acquire the data via dashboard, AWS S3, and/or API.

What makes our service comprehensive is the fact that a large percentage of global economic activity is concentrated in a surprisingly small number of places where goods are made, stored and transported.

Each hub features an array of infrastructure (e.g., ports, factories, container lots, rail links, refineries, commodity storage) directly linked to larger economic forces, such as consumer spending, income levels, industrial production and energy consumption, to name a few.

By monitoring these hubs directly, you can get an early pulse on economic indicators, rather than waiting weeks or even months for official government data to be released. Or the satellite-derived data can even be seen as an alternative to government sources in some cases, like in China.

Now is a particularly relevant time given the focus on China. The results will have implications for the rest of the world given China’s size. A bullish scenario envisions a ripple effect that begins with China and spreads to other Asian countries and beyond.

China’s move to lift COVID restrictions should result in many more people taking to the roads and skies, and spurs more economic demand. However, the outlook for other energy-intensive sectors – heavy industry and construction – looks far murkier.


What other regions are you interested in monitoring?

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