The leverage threat

The China debt crisis intensifies:

China’s level of leverage is rising at an “alarming pace”, particularly in the finance sector, a senior central bank official said in a commentary, amid growing concern by the country’s senior leaders over financial security.

The official Xinhua news agency on Monday cited Xu Zhong, head of the People’s Bank of China’s (PBOC) research bureau, as saying the country needed to deleverage at a “proper pace” to reduce financial sector debt and avoid systemic financial risk.

“China’s overall leverage level is reasonable but is rising at an alarming pace, especially in the financial sector,” Xu said. The original commentary was published in business journal Caijing Magazine.

Xu said high levels of stimulus spending from government paired with poor corporate management and financial supervision were key factors causing rising levels of leverage, Xinhua said.

Some more context from Bloomberg:

China’s run of solid economic indicators proved little consolation for its shaky financial markets in April. The dichotomy stems from a shift in the leadership’s focus toward reducing leverage — one that’s set to determine whether growth joins asset prices in heading down.

Economists are practically unanimous in saying that reduced debt loads would be good for China’s longer-term health. The big unknown is whether officials can manage that without a dose of short-term pain. As UBS Group AG analysts put it in a note last week: if authorities’ initiatives are “not managed well, it could lead to a rise in credit events, excessive liquidity tightening, faster-than-intended slowdown of credit growth, and greater market volatility.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *