Tag Archives: CBRC

China May Let Banks Fail

9 Mar

From Business Insider:

Last spring, in the midst of China’s huge lending boom, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) was reassuring skeptics there was no reason to fear an explosion of bad debt because most loans were going into government-sponsored infrastructure projects and would almost certainly be repaid.  A year later, they’re a lot more worried, and are sending a strong message to lenders that such loans should not be considered risk free.  Even with the guarantees in place, Bloomberg reports that “a few cities and counties may face very large repayment pressure in coming years because of debt ratios [outstanding debt compared to annual revenue] already exceeding 400 percent.”

Whether regulators will really leave banks holding the bag for the loans that have already been made is another matter.  The government has no interest in undermining the balance sheets of the big banks, which it would be forced to bail out in any event.  But I found the Bloomberg article’s allusion the 1998 collapse of Guangdong International Trust & Investment Corp. (GITIC) potentially prophetic.  Besides the “big four” banks, China has literally hundreds of smaller lending institutions, from municipal banks to trust companies to rural credit co-ops.  I wouldn’t be surprised if many of these institutions, with their close ties to local governments, own a big piece of the loans being called into question.  It’s too early to say, but if GITIC offers any precedent, we could see a handful of less-favored institutions cut loose and allowed to implode.

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