China’s $1 Trillion Credit Pool Hindering Growth

China’s economy is proving less responsive to credit, escalating pressure on Premier Li Keqiang to strengthen the role of private enterprise.

The government’s broadest measure of credit rose 58 percent to a record 6.16 trillion yuan ($1 trillion) in January-to-March, when gross domestic product gained 7.7 percent, compared with 8.1 percent a year earlier. Each $1 in credit firepower added the equivalent of 17 cents in GDP, down from 29 cents last year and 83 cents in 2007, when global money markets began to freeze, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The diminishing returns to lending heighten focus on the need for what the International Monetary Fund said yesterday are “decisive” policy changes in the world’s second-largest economy. Without a refocus away from state-approved projects, Li and President Xi Jinping risk overseeing both a further slowdown in growth and an increase in non-performing loans.

“Less efficient and more highly leveraged borrowers have been kept afloat, tying up credit that could be used to generate more growth,” said David Loevinger, former senior coordinator for China affairs at the U.S. Treasury Department. “To boost growth, China needs to channel more financing to its private enterprises, which are both more profitable and less leveraged than their state-owned counterparts.”

State enterprises have seen their return on equity fall by half in six years, according to CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets in Hong Kong. The biggest concern from China’s credit surge is the money going to companies and state-run enterprises whose performance is deteriorating, Francis Cheung, head of China-Hong Kong strategy, wrote in a May 9 report.


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Mingze Wu

Mingze Wu

Currency Analyst at Market Pulse
Based in Singapore, Mingze Wu focuses on trading strategies and technical and fundamental analysis of major currency pairs. He has extensive trading experience across different asset classes and is well-versed in global market fundamentals. In addition to contributing articles to MarketPulseFX, Mingze centers on forex and macro-economic trends impacting the Asia Pacific region.
Mingze Wu