The second cut in China’s interest rates in three months reveals key elements in Beijing’s thinking as it tries to reconcile an economic policy agenda beset with conflicting priorities, analysts said on Monday.
The task before China requires some delicate manoeuvres. It aims to wean the country off an extraordinary debt binge (see Martin Wolf ) while keeping GDP growth fairly robust. It hopes to combat disinflationary pressures while preventing the renminbi from sliding too sharply against the US dollar. It wants to curb a dangerous slump in industrial profits without resorting to another round of investment pump-priming. It needs to keep domestic liquidity levels buoyant in spite of a surge in capital flight. Read more
By Kevin P. Gallagher and Margaret Myers
Despite the economic slowdown that is gripping Latin America, Chinese finance to the region rose to $22bn in 2014, a 71 per cent jump over 2013. These latest estimates from the China-Latin America Finance Database put 2014 as the second highest year on record for Chinese lending in Latin America and raise the stock of Chinese finance in the region to $119bn since 2005, when China’s banks started reaching out to the Americas.
This new finance couldn’t come at a better time. After a decade-long commodity boom, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that Latin America’s economic growth may only reach 2.2 per cent in 2015. As the economy cools, the region’s traditional sources of capital are turning to the United States, beckoned by faster growth and rising interest rates. Read more
By Gabriel Sterne and Alessandro Theiss, Oxford Economics
If there was a financial crisis in China, the government could take a big hit, transferring a huge chunk of bad debts onto its balance sheet. But this remedy would have a big impact on the domestic and global economy.
Overall debt (public, private and financial) has skyrocketed in recent years, rising from 176 per cent of GDP in 2007, to 258 per cent of GDP by mid-2014. The debt binge may be fuelling a time bomb in the property market. Read more
Clearly, China’s interest rate cut on Friday was motivated by a desire to manage a flagging growth story. But the announcement also revealed a few sub-plots, which together may say more about Beijing’s mindset than the dominant narrative.
The first point, several analysts said, is that Beijing’s monetary easing may well have further to run, following the decision by the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) to cut its benchmark lending rate by 0.4 percentage points to 5.6 per cent, while cutting its deposit rate by 0.25 per cent to 2.75 per cent. Read more
By Xiao Qi, China Confidential
China’s shadow finance sector has become a global concern. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank have both warned about the risks associated with the rapid build-up of assets within such an opaque sector, while central bankers now regularly reference Chinese shadow finance as a key potential risk to global economic stability.
But while concern over the lurking horrors in China’s financial shadows remains justified, regulatory actions mean that the systemic risks that they pose are finally starting to ebb. This is happening in spite of the fact that the overall scale of the shadow system is continuing to expand. Read more
By Alastair Campbell and W. John Hoffmann, Exceptional Resources Group
“There is no difference between reform and anti-corruption: both must be implemented within the framework of law”.
So said Chinese leader Xi Jinping, and with the end of a high level Communist Party meeting last month, the significance of Xi’s “Rule of Law” campaign has become crystal clear. It is a key tool in his attempt to restructure the framework of Party political power and decision-making via the four new Party central leading groups which he chairs. Read more
In the years since the financial crisis, emerging markets have been awash with free-flowing global liquidity. Easy money from western central banks – notably the Fed – has driven up equity markets and currencies, and slashed borrowing costs.
On Wednesday, the QE punchbowl is finally set for the dishwasher. So will investors in emerging markets call it a night? Read more
By George Magnus
Serial disappointments in emerging country growth rates since 2011 has forced the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to cut its five-year-ahead forecasts for a group of 153 emerging and low-income developing countries on six occasions since late 2011 (see chart).
However, in its latest World Economic Outlook, the IMF again assumes that current disappointments will give way to restored equilibrium growth rates over the next five years. But what if there is no equilibrium and emerging market (EM) growth continues to disappoint? Read more
By Alastair Campbell and W. John Hoffmann, Exceptional Resources Group
The “rule of law” is set to dominate China’s key Communist Party plenum in October, Xinhua, the official news agency, has said. The rule of law is a “must” if the country is to attain “economic growth, clean government, cultural prosperity, social justice and a sound environment”, Xinhua added.
Many observers would agree. Some may even believe that China is about to embrace a Western-style system in which all actors – the government, institutions, companies and individuals – become subservient to an independent legal code. But what, in practice, is the renewed focus on rule of law likely to mean for China’s development? Read more
There is more gloomy news for the world’s second largest economy. A comprehensive official survey of Chinese households, businesses and banks finds demand for loans slackening further in the third quarter, suggesting scant prospects of a reprieve from the credit slump seen in August and July.
Some 3,100 banks interviewed by the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), the central bank, reported a significant easing in loan demand among all three categories of firms – small, medium and large – for the third quarter, which ends at the end of September.
The loan demand index fell to 66.6 per cent, down from 71.5 per cent (see chart). The muted demand for loans is set to create headwinds for the PBoC’s initiative this week to boost economic growth by injecting Rmb500bn ($81bn) into the five largest state-owned banks, economists said. Read more
By Guonan Ma, Bruegel
Against a backdrop of weakening domestic demand, and in the slipstream of a major debate about whether Chinese monetary policy in the last year has been too restrictive, there have been definite signs of Chinese monetary loosening in recent weeks. This makes sense. Timely and measured monetary easing will support growth, facilitate structural rebalancing and underpin rapid economic reform.
There is little doubt that Chinese growth has been losing momentum. During the past few quarters there were clear signs of rising inventories, slumping property sales, producer price deflation, declining consumer price inflation, weakening corporate earnings, slowing investment and anaemic industrial production. Fortunately, private consumption is still holding up. Read more
By Qu Hongbin, Co-Head of Asian Economic Research, HSBC
For many, China’s growth model, which has delivered average annual GDP growth of 10 per cent over the past three decades, simply looks wrong: a national savings rate of around 50 per cent is unheard of in a large, modern economy.
A typical diagnosis states that China invests too much and consumes too little. The prescription is “rebalancing” – moving the economy away from investment towards consumption-led growth. However, a consumption-led growth model has little in theory or evidence to support it. Read more
By Andrew Brown of Emerging Capital Partners
Last week the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted a further drop in China’s growth to 7.3 per cent in 2014, the lowest figure that the country has experienced in the last 23 years.
China’s continued economic slowdown as it shifts from export-led to consumer-driven growth has prompted speculation as to the knock-on effect on economies that have benefited from China’s rise. Debate has centred on whether many frontier economies, including those of sub-Saharan Africa, are reliant on continued rapid growth in China’s demand for commodities to drive their own economic development. Read more
China may have announced a mini-stimulus to boost growth but it’s unlikely to prevent the world’s second-largest economy from slipping into a technical recession this year. At least that’s the view of economist Diana Choyleva at Lombard Street Research.
Of course, the basic idea that China could indeed contract for two straight quarters relies on one simple assumption: the official numbers aren’t just wrong, they are way, way out of whack with reality. Read more
Inflation below target; slumping exports; growth forecasts down – it’s not been a good week for China data.
The market response? Time to buy! The Shanghai composite index has just closed up 3.2 per cent, having been up 2.2 per cent on Thursday. It’s the best two-day gain since early 2012, according to Bloomberg. Read more
If a company suspends shares once amid fraud accusation, it could be merely unlucky. When it does it again six months later, it starts to look like a trend.
That is the unfortunate situation that Zoomlion, China’s second largest maker of heavy machinery, finds itself in now. Back in January, newspaper offices around the world received an anonymous letter accusing Zoomlion of falsely inflating sales, backed up by 76 pages of purported sales records. Zoomlion rejected the accusations as “false” and “groundless”. Its share price fell more than six per cent when trading resumed. The events of this week are eerily similar. Read more
By Mitul Kotecha of Crédit Agricole.
It was not so long ago when expectations for the Chinese currency, the renminbi, had shifted to a prolonged period of weakness against the US dollar. This corresponded with the view that the Chinese authorities would use their currency as a tool to help cushion the impact of an exports slowdown.
All of this changed in late July from when the RMB began a multi-month period of appreciation at a pace that has astounded many analysts. Read more
Assigning letters to economic trajectories was very much in vogue back in 2009. Would recoveries be ‘V’, ‘W’ or ‘L’ shaped? Now the craze seems to be coming to China.
October’s official PMI data showed that China’s factories are back to growth – just. But analysts disagree about whether this points to a big turnaround. Read more
By Linda Yueh
This week’s flash PMI data suggest the recent weakness in the Chinese economy extends into the fourth quarter. HSBC PMI rose in October at the start of the quarter, but remains below 50 at 49.1. That’s an improvement from September’s 47.9 but is still a sign of contraction.
This is after GDP expanded 7.4 per cent in the third quarter, slower than the government’s 7.5 per cent target. And, consensus forecasts gathered by Bloomberg don’t show much stimulus or easing for the rest of the year. Read more
Have the dark clouds looming over the renminbi finally cleared? On Thursday the Chinese currency hit its highest level against the US dollar since May, breaking through the Rmb6.3 level in the onshore market. Offshore, the currency also rose to a near five-month high.
So, after a brief hiatus, is the renminbi’s appreciation train back on track? Read more