China’s policy response to the global financial crisis created one of the largest debt buildups as a share of GDP seen anywhere in the world over the past 50 years. Cognizant of the risks of such a large credit buildup, since early 2013 (when the current Chinese leadership took over), we have seen a notable shift by policymakers to make credit provision more transparent and productive. As discussed above, there was a notable rebound in TSF in 2012/2013 as GDP slowed. That TSF growth was, to a large extent, driven by the growth in trust financings, an area we have highlighted as one of the riskiest segments within China’s credit market. To control risks, policymakers made several attempts at curbing the growth in trust financings. In June 2013, 7-day repo rates spiked to as high as 28% intraday, as interbank rates were pushed up in an attempt to reduce the funding to the trust sector; and in mid-2014, the Chinese banking regulator adopted a number of measures, including restrictions on the informal securitisation of certain credit products and reiterating prudent risk management requirements. These measures successfully reduced the growth in trust financings, with net new trust financings (i.e., new issuance less redemptions) hovering around zero over the past ten months (Exhibit 2).
The administrative measures discussed above have been successful in controlling the riskiest elements within China’s credit markets, as both trust financing and LGFV financings have been contained. However, they have also had the effect of reducing the overall growth of TSF. In our view, these risk control measures have had the impact of not only controlling credit supply,but have also compounded the effect of weak growth in dampening credit demand.
…Risk control measures and weak credit demand have dampened credit growth since the beginning of 2013, leading to a slowdown in GDP growth. To revive GDP growth, policymakers have undertaken a broad range of monetary easing measures, including lower interest rates, a reduction in the RRR, and other types of liquidity injections into the banking system, such as open market operations.
…The equity market now plays an important role in terms of both the short-term policy objective (i.e., delivering this year’s growth target) and structural reform ambitions. Policy makers appear to have taken a largely benign view of the equity market rally, which, if sustained, can boost GDP by 0.5pp on our estimates through trading-related financial activities, and could add another 0.2pp or so through a rise in consumption from market wealth generation. We also see further potential benefits from ‘equitisation’ as it helps to replace debt with equity financing.
There it is in nut shell. We could perhaps describe this as the Westernisation of the Chinese economy. Low inflation, no productivity, a bursting property bubble and authorities standing behind a giant “put” for stock prices to produce this:
How high could it go? Higher! The caution is that it will not be immune to the global stock bust when it comes.
David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the founding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal.
He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review. Latest posts by David Llewellyn-Smith ( see all)