This Is Where China’s Outflows Went

China’s rush of capital outflows may not be a huge red flag, if you look at where the funds flowed.

Sleuthing by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), which acts as a bank for central banks, suggests a big chunk may have gone toward unwinding a once-faddish investment: Buying yuan, also known as the renminbi, offshore as a play on expectations the Chinese currency would continue to appreciate against the dollar as well as the mainland’s slightly higher interest rates amid a yield-starved world.

Expectations have now shifted toward renminbi depreciation, making holding the currency relatively unattractive. Of the around $175 billion decline in cross-border loans to China in the third quarter, nearly half came from offshore depositors backing out of the yuan, the BIS said, citing data from banks reporting to it.

While analysts have speculated that investors have been selling Chinese assets and sending the fund offshore, the BIS downplayed that as a source of outflows.


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Craig Erlam

Craig Erlam

Senior Currency Analyst at OANDA
Based in London, England, Craig Erlam joined OANDA in 2015 as a Market Analyst. With more than five years' experience as a financial market analyst and trader, he focuses on both fundamental and technical analysis while conducting macroeconomic commentary. He has been published by The Financial Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and The Telegraph, and he also appears regularly as a guest commentator on networks including Sky News, Bloomberg, CNBC and BBC. Craig holds a full membership to the Society of Technical Analysts and he is recognized as a Certified Financial Technician by the International Federation of Technical Analysts.