Latest Views on Chinese Debt
This first article sounds optimistic, with high debt levels offset by rising property prices, until you reach the conclusion.
Specifically, Nomura estimates that USD/CNH will reach 7.1 at the end of 2017 while China’s one-year benchmark deposit rate will be below 1 percent.
The second is more optimistc.
There are safeguards and buffers in place to mitigate the effects of rising NPLs and help the Chinese banking system avert a crisis while it works through its debt overhang. The Chinese banking system has high capital provisioning and profit buffers. Amounting to CNY19 trillion more than the current NPL balance of CNY1.4 trillion, these buffers would still cover losses even if NPL ratios reach 20% (figure 2). Moreover, most major banks have announced dividend cuts in 2016 that would add to these buffers. The debt has also largely been funded in local currency allowing China to avoid the currency mismatch that plagued many emerging markets during the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997.
The third not so much.
“I sometimes joke that we’re in financial Star Trek,” says Rodney Jones, the Beijing-based principal of Wigram Capital Advisors. “We’ve left the solar system behind.”
This voyage into the unknown, says Mr. Jones, could reach further and last longer than many expect. He points out that Beijing has lately fired up a new thruster: bonds.
Beijing has encouraged local governments—which do the bulk of China’s investing—to issue huge quantities of bonds, ostensibly to repay more expensive bank debt but in reality to accumulate new funds for roads, subways and other infrastructure for which the returns are far from clear.
On top of that, the central bank is selling large volumes of bonds to commercial banks to shore up their balance sheets so they can keep pumping out loans. Bank credit is increasing at twice the pace of the overall economy.