Saturday, 15 April 2017

Geopolitical tensions rattle markets but it is China's debt that may explode

Markets have been rattled in recent days by geopolitical tensions in Syria and North Korea.

Then on Thursday, the US used its largest non-nuclear bomb to attack the Islamic State's holdings in Afghanistan.

And on Friday, as the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson sailed towards the Korean Peninsula, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged all parties “to stop provoking and threatening each other and not to make the situation irretrievable”.

However, ZeroHedge reminds us that it is China's huge debt that could really threaten global financial markets.

ZeroHedge asserts that “just one number truly matters: that of the global credit impulse, which as we cautioned for the first time two months ago, had recently turned negative, mostly as a result of the recent deceleration in China's credit creation”.

ZeroHedge added that “the reflation trade of the past year was entirely the function of Chinese credit dynamics”, so this deceleration could adversely impact the global credit impulse.

On Friday, Reuters reported that China's banks made 1.02 trillion yuan in new loans in March, down from 1.17 trillion yuan in February.

However, China's total social financing, a broad measure of credit and liquidity in the economy, surged to 2.12 trillion yuan in March from 1.15 trillion yuan in February, reflecting probably a surge in off-balance sheet lending.

Wendy Chen, an economist at Nomura, said: “We don't think the strength in shadow banking activity will continue.”

Indeed, the concern is that bad loans may already be at destabilising levels, with Reuters noting that “some China watchers warn a debt crisis may be inevitable if loan and money supply growth continues to sharply outpace the rate of economic expansion”.

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