Investment banks, economists and analysts have pessimistic forecasts for the Chinese economy in 2012. Economic growth is likely to slip to 7.9 percent in 2012, according to predictions from the investment bank Nomura International (Hong Kong) Ltd . That’s the most pessimistic prediction among the investment banks – the last time that China’s economic growth was below 8 percent was 1998 when the financial crisis hit Asia-Pacific – but almost all agree that global economic engine will face a challenging year. China’s economy is shifting from a model of two-digit high-speed growth to one at a relatively lower level, said Xia Bin, an academic adviser to the People’s Bank of China (PBOC). It will be necessary for the country to try all methods to expand domestic demand to cope with the harsh economic situation, said Xia. China’s economic momentum is slowing, largely due to a cooling property market and weak external demand, said Zhang Zhiwei, chief China economist at Nomura International. Economic growth may slow sharply to 7.5 percent year on year in the first quarter and 7.6 percent in the second quarter, according to a report from the bank. “The sluggish growth will be clearly noticeable in the national economy as well as in peoples’ ordinary lives in the first quarter of next year,” Zhang said. Economists are speculating that the PBOC, China’s central bank, will loosen its monetary policies in 2012 to support economic growth and provide a boost for the banking industry. China may relax the reserve-requirement ratios (RRR) for banks four times in 2012, as well as moving towards lower interest rates in the first quarter, Zhang said. Both economists agreed that the new-yuan loans will increase in 2012. Nomura’s prediction is for a rise to 8 trillion yuan ($1.26 trillion) while JPMorgan’s outlook is for about 8.2 trillion yuan.