Posts tagged ‘Debt’


China Pessimism Is Overblown, IMF Says, Citing Booming Services Sector – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Recent Chinese economic data is stoking fear the world’s second largest economy is decelerating at pace that could pull the global economy into a recession. But the International Monetary Fund’s top Asia economist, Changyong Rhee, says such pessimism may be unwarranted.

A booming services sector—such as shipping and retail—is offsetting the collapse in manufacturing, he argues. Advertisement “We don’t think there’s enough evidence based on the manufacturing sector that there will be a hard landing,” Mr. Rhee said in an interview. “They definitely have a manufacturing slowdown, an overcapacity problem. But other parts of China are actually growing faster.” If Beijing relies too much on monetary policy to stimulate growth, it could fuel China’s economic problems rather than fix them, the IMF official cautioned. His warning came as the People’s Bank of China on Friday cut interest rates again in a bid to revive growth.

Old ways of measuring China’s economy—such as looking at electricity consumption—are outdated because they don’t accurately reflect the changing nature of growth, Mr. Rhee said. Services now account for more than 50% of the country’s economy and there is a good chance their contributions are being underestimated, he said. On first glance, China’s trade data appears to support worries about the economy. But digging a little deeper into the numbers may actually show the country’s move towards a growth model more reliant on consumer demand is already bearing fruit.

Although the value of imports has fallen, volumes tell a different story. By adjusting for the fall in commodity prices and the appreciation in the yuan, the IMF calculates imports actually grew in July by 2%. And while the amount of goods imported has declined, imports of services are in double digits.

China’s real-estate sector has also fomented concerns. But Mr. Rhee said there are signs property prices are stabilizing. That is not to say the IMF believes there is no cause for apprehension. Beijing fueled its stellar growth rate over the last two decades through cheap credit. Souring global growth prospects revealed a country vastly overinvested in manufacturing capacity, particularly by state-owned enterprises. The IMF estimates overinvestment totals nearly 25% of the country’s growth domestic product. That means government-owned firms will struggle to pay their loans on mountains of credit. “If they mismanage the financial market, then they could have a hard landing,” Mr. Rhee said.

Beijing is facing a daunting task. Winding down the amount of credit in the system too quickly could stall growth. But failure to cut corporate debt levels and deal with bad loans quickly could create a bigger credit crisis over the next couple of years. “One question is whether China can manage this transition with the current governance system,” the senior IMF official said. “That is a critical issue.” Beijing will need to ensure government agencies take greater responsibility for their respective areas of oversight and state-owned companies will need to have stronger budget constraints, he said. China’s recent market turmoil revealed a weak regulatory structure. And overhauling a political system that relied on state-owned firms to boost growth and enrich regions is also expected to be a challenge.

That’s why, even though the IMF is backing more stimulus by Beijing to prevent too much deceleration in the economy, fund officials are concerned the government may depend too much on the old system of juicing the economy through credit. Counting on monetary policy, rather than using the budget to stimulate the economy, could exacerbate the problem of overcapacity.

“If they rely on monetary policy too much, then they would continue the classic credit expansion,” Mr. Rhee said. Besides fueling bad investments by state-owned enterprises, it could also “drag on necessary structural and governance reforms.”

Source: China Pessimism Is Overblown, IMF Says, Citing Booming Services Sector – China Real Time Report – WSJ


India Takes Top Spot In Producing Wealthy Households – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s affluent-household club is growing quickly.

Over the next five years, the number of such households–meaning those with financial assets of $100,000 to $2 million –is expected to jump 10-fold, to 4.9 million, according to an Economist Intelligence Unit study. In percentage terms, India ranked first among the 32 nations covered in the report.

By that same year,  the total financial assets in these households should reach $879 billion, driven by significant “economic reforms, attention to infrastructure, a stable political outlook and positive investor sentiment,” according to the report.

via Report: India Takes Top Spot In Producing Wealthy Households – India Real Time – WSJ.


Modi’s Make in India Push to Take on China Faces Red Tape – Businessweek

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking to turn India into a global manufacturing hub by curbing red tape. Tell that to Tata Steel Ltd. (TATA), which closed one of its largest iron-ore mines in September over permit delays.

Close up - Clothes marker - Made in India

India’s largest maker of the alloy isn’t alone. Steel Authority of India Ltd. (SAIL) shut one of its top-yielding quarries the same month pending renewal of its lease. JSW Steel Ltd. (JSTL)’s plan to start mining in eastern Jharkhand state has been hampered by a probe begun last month into mine allocations.

Modi is set to trumpet his “Make in India” initiative at the Group of 20 summit in Australia this week as he vies with China to woo manufacturers. The mine closures show lingering bureaucratic obstacles to his push, stemming from court rulings and officials in India’s 29 states that lie beyond Modi’s direct control. India slid two places to 142nd out of 189 economies in the World Bank’s latest ease of doing business rankings.

via Modi’s Make in India Push to Take on China Faces Red Tape – Businessweek.


After farmers commit suicide, debts fall on their families – The Times of India

Latha Reddy Musukula was making tea on a recent morning when she spotted the money lenders walking down the dirt path toward her house. They came in a phalanx of 15 men, by her estimate. She knew their faces, because they had walked down the path before.

After each visit, her husband, a farmer named Veera Reddy, sank deeper into silence, frozen by some terror he would not explain. Three times he cut his wrists. He tied a noose to a tree, relenting when the family surrounded him, weeping. In the end he waited until Musukula stepped out, and then he hanged himself from a pipe supporting their roof, leaving a careful list of each debt he owed to each money lender. She learned the full sum then: 400,000 rupees, or $6,430.

A current of dread runs through this farmland, where women in jewel-colored saris bend their backs over watery terraces of rice. In Andhra Pradesh, the southern state where Musukula lives, the suicide rate among farmers is nearly three times the national average; since 1995, the number of suicides by India’s farmers has passed 290,000, according to the national crime records bureau, though the statistics do not specify the reason for the act.

India’s small farmers, once the country’s economic backbone and most reliable vote bank, are increasingly being left behind. With global competition and rising costs cutting into their lean profits, their ranks are dwindling, as is their contribution to the gross domestic product. If rural voters once made their plight into front-page news around election time, this year the large parties are jockeying for the votes of the urban middle class, and the farmers’ voices are all but silent.

Even death is a stopgap solution, when farmers like Reddy take their own lives, their debts pass from husband to widow, from father to children. Musukula is now trying to scrape a living from the four acres that defeated her husband. Around her she sees a country transformed by economic growth, full of opportunities to break out of poverty, if only her son or daughter could grasp one.

via After farmers commit suicide, debts fall on their families – The Times of India.

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China to judge local governments by their debt: Xinhua | Reuters

China will soon rate the performance of local governments partly by how much debt they incur, as Beijing tries to wean the country off heavy government investment, state media said.

A farmer carries a shovel over his shoulder as he walks to tend his crops in a field that includes an abandoned building, that was to be part of an amusement park called 'Wonderland', on the outskirts of Beijing December 5, 2011. REUTERS/David Gray

The central organization department, which oversees the appointment of senior party, government, military and state firm officials, said debt will be key when evaluating performances, according to the state news agency Xinhua.

Large-scale government investment has helped China\’s gross domestic product expand at double-digit rates for the past three decades. But analysts say China\’s economy has now hit a turning point, and domestic consumption must grow and investment fall to ensure a healthy expansion.

via China to judge local governments by their debt: Xinhua | Reuters.


* An addiction that could spell economic disaster

The Times: “Fund managers who between them control more than $1 trillion in assets were warned yesterday that China was in the grip of a debt addiction that could destabilise its financial system.

Traditional houses in the shadow of new high-rise apartment blocks in Shanghai

Speaking at the annual CLSA China Forum in Beijing, Francis Cheung, the brokerage’s China head, said that the country was hooked on an “unsustainable” pace of growth requiring ever-greater injections of debt to keep going.

Fifty per cent of the Chinese econ-omy is made up of investment, an unprecedented level for a country at its stage of development, sucking in increasing amounts of credit, effectively to buy growth.

Total debt in the world’s second-largest economy soared from 148 per cent of gross domestic product in 2008 to 205 per cent of GDP last year and is expected to hit 245 per cent by 2015, Mr Cheung said in a report.

But despite the rising tide of investment being poured in to build everything from houses and roads to railways and power plants, China’s credit habit is becoming less effective, with the same amount of debt generating lower returns every year.

China’s annual GDP growth has almost halved from 13 per cent in 2007 to an expected 7.5 per cent this year, while total debt has more than doubled in the same time, a development model that President Xi Jinping also has called “unsustainable”.

“China is running just to stand still … China is not a rich country; it is a lot of debt for a country at this GDP level. What I worry about is unregulated lending,” Mr Cheung told the forum.

With Chinese industry suffering from overcapacity in every sector from steel to cement to solar panels, the country “cannot use any more stimulus policies to boost growth”.

The fastest-growing debt is that shouldered by local governments, with the undisclosed sum estimated to have hit 20 trillion yuan (£2 trillion) last year — a doubling in two years. Local governments are being forced to pay more to service their debts, while their ability to raise money through selling land is slowing.

The biggest risk, Mr Cheung said, came from the growing use of unregulated loans generated by “trust companies”, financial sector intermediaries that make money from offering risky loans known as “wealth management products” to private companies unable to get credit from state-run banks.

A report published by Moody’s yesterday found that China’s “shadow banking” sector had hit an estimated 29 trillion yuan (£3 trillion) last year, posing a “systemic risk” to the financial system, despite a partial clampdown in March. The credit ratings agency also warned of the threat of contagion, stemming from little-regulated shadow lending that has swollen by 67 per cent in the past two years.

Last month China sudffered its first sovereign credit rating downgrade in 14 years as Fitch lowered its appraisal amid fears that its debt problems would necessitate a government bailout.”

via An addiction that could spell economic disaster | The Times.


* Fitch Lowers Rating on China Local-Currency Debt

WSJ: “Fitch Ratings Inc. lowered one of its key ratings on China’s government debt, in one of the most prominent warnings to date over a credit buildup in the world’s second-largest economy.


The downgrade applies only to China’s yuan-denominated debt, which is primarily traded domestically—not the foreign-currency debt that it issues in international financial markets, so it is unlikely to have a big impact on global financial markets.

Nevertheless, it is the first outright downgrade in years of debt that is widely seen as buffered by China’s vast foreign-exchange reserves, highlighting a growing perception that massive lending by China’s banks, as well as shadowy nonbank lenders that operate under little regulation, could seriously disrupt China’s economic recovery.

Much of China’s debt came from a surge of lending in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, which helped Chinese growth rebound in part with the help of massive infrastructure projects but weighed down local governments and banks with loans. Analysts at Fitch have been part of a chorus of analysts and market players consistently sounding alarms about the run-up in China’s debt.

Saying that “risks over China’s financial stability have grown,” the credit-ratings firm lowered China’s long-term local-currency rating to single-A-plus from double-A-minus, with a stable outlook. It was its first downgrade of Chinese debt since at least 1997. It kept China’s foreign-currency debt rating unchanged at single-A-plus, saying it is well supported by China’s foreign-exchange reserves, worth $3.387 trillion at the end of 2012.

Bank credit extended to the private sector was equivalent to 135.7% of China’s gross domestic product at the end of 2012, the highest level of any emerging-market economy rated by Fitch, it said.”

via Fitch Lowers Rating on China Local-Currency Debt –


* China’s debt-to-GDP ratio hits 43%

China Daily: “China‘s government debt amounts to about 17.5 trillion yuan ($2.78 trillion), about 43 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, Yang Kaisheng, president of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, said Tuesday.

The debt is composed of 10.7 trillion yuan ($1.7 trillion) of local government debt and 6.8 trillion yuan ($1.07 trillion) of central government debt, Yang said at a press conference on the sidelines of China’s annual parliamentary session.”.

via China’s debt-to-GDP ratio hits 43%|Economy|

This is shocking news as a year ago (2010) the ratio was only 17.5%! Of course, earlier we blogged about the parlous state of local government debt rising astronomically. This is the result.  ;-(


Some of us are so riveted by China’s trade surplus of some $3 trillion, that we forget about its debt ratio. In other words, China is behaving only slightly more frugally than many Western nations. The only difference *and it is an important one) uis that the trade surplus does (just about) cover the debt.  😉


* China to boost local govt debt (of over USD 1.5 trillion) clean-up

China Daily: “China will boost the clean-up of thousands of millions of local government’s debt in 2012, so to guard against possible defaults that would hurt its banks, the country’s bankingregulator said Thursday.

The country will focus on cleaning up old loans made to local government financing vehicles(LGFV) while tightening new debt issues and raising cash to debt coverage ratios, China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) said on its website.

The CBRC will strictly control the use of LGFV loans, while giving priority to key projects that are under construction, it said. The regulator will also improve risk monitoring and reclassify LGFV loans to relieve pressure from banks.

Local government debts had risen to 10.72 trillion yuan (1.7 trillion US dollars) by the end of 2010, accounting for about 26.9 percent of China’s gross domestic product, according to data released by the National Audit Office.

Analysts fret that if a certain proportion of the loans have gone sour, it will push up non-performing loan ratios in the banking industry and threaten banks’ credit ratings.

Local governments typically invested the money they borrowed in building infrastructure. They also faced huge repayment pressure in 2011 and now also in 2012.”

China is taking steps to rein in the extraordinary splurge it generated in the aftermath of the 2008-09 financial crisis by encouraging local government initiatives. It is primarily this LG debt that has caused China’s debt to GDP ratio to increase from less than 20% to over 40 % in two years.

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