Chinese capital markets are quietly turmoiling as debt issues are delayed and demand for “Trust” products – the shadow-banking-system’s wealth management ‘investments’ – is tumbling. As Nikkei reports, since January, 9 companies have postponed or canceled issuance plans (around $1 billion) and is most pronounced in privately-owned companies (who lack an implicit government guarantee). This, of course, is exactly what the PBOC wanted (to instill some fear into these high-yield investors – demand – and thus slow the supply of credit to the riskiest over-capacity compenies) but as non-performing loans in China surge to post-crisis highs, fear remains prescient that they will be unable to “contain” the problem once real defaults begin (as opposed to ‘delays of payment’ that we have seen so far).
Chinese banks’ bad loans increased for the ninth straight quarter to the highest level since the 2008 financial crisis, highlighting pressures on asset quality and profit growth as the world’s second-largest economy slows.
Non-performing loans rose by 28.5 billion yuan ($4.7 billion) in the last quarter of 2013 to 592.1 billion yuan, the highest since September 2008, the China Banking Regulatory Commission said in a statement on its website yesterday.
Chinese banks are struggling to keep soured loans in check and extend earnings growth as the slowing economy and government efforts to curb shadow financing make it harder for borrowers to repay debt.
“China’s economic growth turned downward with the new leadership switching policy focus to reform and risk management from emphasizing stable expansion,” said Wang Yichuan, a Wuhan-based analyst at Changjiang Securities Co. “Naturally the bad loans will increase along with the change. We expect the deterioration to continue for two more years.”
Chinese banks added 89 trillion yuan of assets, mostly through loans, in the past five years, equivalent to the entire U.S. banking industry’s, CBRC data show. By comparison, U.S. commercial banks held $14.6 trillion of assets at the end of September, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Investors are increasingly concerned that China’s investment through borrowing since 2008 may trigger a financial crisis
Concerns over potential defaults on high-yield financial products are making Chinese companies put some debt issues on hold due to wary investors, as well as posing a potential new risk to the global economy.
Since January, nine companies have postponed or canceled issuance plans for a total of 5.75 billion yuan ($948.24 million) in bonds and commercial paper, equivalent to about 2% of the debt issued over the period.
This is most pronounced among privately operated companies, whose lack of government backing has meant less interest from potential investors than hoped.
Demand has been dulled by worries over defaults on so-called wealth management products, a feature of China’s shadow banking system.
Broader credit risks have driven interest rates up, and the gap between corporate debt and more-creditworthy government bonds is widening. Average yields on AA-rated seven-year corporate bonds reached 8.44% in mid-January.
So even if companies offer bonds, they will be unable to raise money if they cannot pay these higher rates.
“There’s a possibility that the Chinese government will step in to keep the negative impact from spreading,” says Hiromichi Tamura, chief strategist at Nomura Securities, “but if these types of repayment delays continue, they could trigger a global stock market downturn.”