【英语财经】中国企业借新债偿旧债 China companies borrow to repay debts in latest credit binge

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2016-5-12 22:55

小艾摘要: China is awash in a credit stimulus that is bigger as a proportion of GDP than the one that Beijing unleashed to haul the economy out of trouble in the aftermath of the 2008/2009 financial crisis.But ...
China companies borrow to repay debts in latest credit binge
China is awash in a credit stimulus that is bigger as a proportion of GDP than the one that Beijing unleashed to haul the economy out of trouble in the aftermath of the 2008/2009 financial crisis.

But this time around, the deluge is failing to boost growth in an economy already saturated with liquidity, a new statistical study shows.

The world’s second-largest economy is currently using four units of credit to generate a single unit of GDP growth (see chart), according to data research by Brandon Emmerich, general manager for North America at Wind Information, a data provider.

The ratio of four to one — as measured by comparing total social financing (TSF) to nominal GDP on a quarterly basis — signifies that the debt efficiency of the Chinese economy is at its lowest point since early 2009.

At that time, a sharp external shock clobbered the GDP growth rate, prompting Beijing to open the credit taps to resuscitate economic activity.

But while the economy responded smartly to the 2009 stimulus, this year it appears almost impervious to the extra spoonfuls of sugar.

China expanded total domestic credit by Rmb12tn ($1.84tn), or 34 per cent of gross domestic product, in the year to November 2009 — significantly less than the Rmb27.9tn, or 40 per cent of GDP, in the year to February this year, according to Bernstein Research.

The difference in impact is clear in headline numbers. In 2009, GDP growth accelerated from 6.1 per cent in the first quarter to a full year rate of 9.2 per cent, but the year to February this year has been accompanied by a steady decline in headline growth.

There appear to be several reasons behind the dwindling debt efficiency. Overcapacity and oversupply in several key traditional sectors, including steel, cement, copper, aluminium, metal ore mining, building materials and offline retail, has rendered these sectors unresponsive to credit infusions because they do not need to expand capacity or production.

Thus much of the new financing is not going into investment, but is rather being used to repay debts built up since the 2009/2010 stimulus.

There are no official figures on how much new debt is being issued merely to repay existing borrowings, but Mr Emmerich has calculated from some 6,800 corporate bond prospectuses issued since 2010 that the proportion is growing fast.

Of the total corporate bonds issued in 2015, issuers noted in some 44 per cent of prospectus that at least some of the proceeds would go to repay outstanding debts, up from 8 per cent of all bonds issued in 2014. In 2016 year to date, the proportion has remained high, at 42 per cent, as the second chart shows.

It was not possible to calculate how much of total proceeds were being used for repayments because the bond prospectuses only listed multiple uses without giving a breakdown on how funds would be apportioned. Nevertheless, the chart above shows an obvious surge in issuance for repayment purposes.

The rationale behind these repayments is clear. Six cuts in China’s interest rates since November 2014 have boosted incentives for financial restructuring by replacing higher yielding debt with bonds that have significantly lower coupon rates. This activity appears set to help to shore up strained balance sheets to some extent in a corporate sector that has piled up debts equivalent to 160 per cent of GDP — one of the highest levels in the world.

As returns on investment in the real economy remain under pressure, companies are finding far fewer attractive projects in the mainstay construction sector. Around 75 per cent of debt issued by corporations from 2010 to 2014 went towards construction project investments, but so far this year, the proportion was a mere 33 per cent, Mr Emmerich said.

The same trend of prioritising debt repayment over investment is also evident in the municipal bond market, which was set up in 2014 to allow Chinese local governments to directly issue bonds.

Of an estimated Rmb14.3tn in local government debt issued since the beginning of 2015, little has gone into investment projects, Mr Emmerich said.

Only 2.5 per cent of “muni” bonds issued were exclusively to generate funds for investment projects (see chart). A “mix” category, in which proceeds went both toward investment and to repaying debts, accounted for 41 per cent, according to Wind Information calculations. Funds raised through the issuance of 55.7 per cent of bonds went exclusively to repay existing debts of various sorts, the Wind data show.

中国目前正沉浮于信贷刺激的洪流中,从相对于国内生产总值(GDP)的比例来看,这轮刺激比北京方面为拉动经济在2008/09金融危机后走出困境而释放的信贷规模更大。

但是,一份新的统计研究显示,这一次,信贷洪流正在丧失对已经充满流动性的经济的刺激作用。

数据供应商万得资讯(Wind Information)北美部总经理布兰登?埃默里赫(Brandon Emmerich)所做的数据研究显示,这个全球第二大经济体目前正在用4个单位的信贷产生1个单位的GDP增长(见图1)。

4:1的比率——以每季度社会融资总量(TSF)与名义GDP增量之比来衡量——意味着中国经济的债务效率正处于自2009年初以来的最低水平。

2009年初,剧烈的外部冲击重创了GDP增长率,促使北京方面开启信贷闸门以恢复经济活动。

尽管中国经济漂亮地回应了2009年的信贷刺激,但是今年它似乎对额外的甜头毫无反应。

伯恩斯坦研究公司(Bernstein Research)的数据显示,在截至2009年11月的一年中,中国国内信贷总量扩大了12万亿元人民币(合1.84万亿美元),相当于GDP的34%,而在截至今年2月的一年中,信贷增量为27.9万亿元人民币,相当于GDP的40%,前者大大低于后者。

信贷增量在影响上的差异明显体现在总体数据上。2009年,GDP增速从第一季度的6.1%提升至全年的9.2%,但是在截至今年2月的一年中,总体增长率稳步下滑。

债务效率降低的背后似乎有多种原因。多个关键的传统行业——包括钢铁、水泥、铜、铝、金属矿石开采、建筑材料和线下零售——产能过剩、供大于求,造成这些行业对新注入的信贷没有反应,因为这些行业不需要扩大产能或提高产量。

图1

因此,很多新融资都没有用于投资,而是用于偿还自2009/10年信贷刺激以来逐渐累积的债务。

目前没有官方数据统计有多少新发行债券只是用于偿还现有借款,但是埃默里赫从2010年以来发行的大约6800只企业债券的发行说明书中计算发现,这一比例正在迅速上升。

在2015年发行的全部企业债券中,发行人在大约44%的发行说明书中指出,至少部分融资将用于偿还未偿债务,较2014年8%的比例大幅上升。2016年迄今为止,这一比例仍然高居42%,如图2所示。

图2

由于债券发行说明书只列出多项用途、而不对资金如何分配给出明细,因此无法计算究竟有多少融资被用于偿还债务。尽管如此,图2表明以偿债为目的的债券发行明显增加。

这些偿债行为背后的原因很明显。自2014年11月以来的6次降息,增加了企业对自身债务进行重组的动机,以票面利率明显较低的债券替换利率较高的债务。这种做法在某种程度上似乎将有助于支撑企业部门捉襟见肘的资产负债表。中国企业部门积累的债务已相当于GDP的160%,居于世界最高水平之列。

由于实体经济的投资回报仍然承受压力,企业在作为经济支柱的建筑业发现的具有吸引力的项目大大减少。埃默里赫称,2010年至2014年间企业发行的债券中约有75%的资金流入建筑项目投资,但是今年以来,这一比例仅为33%。

图3

所筹资金优先用于偿还债务、而非投资的趋势在地方政府债券市场也很明显。该市场于2014年建立,允许中国地方政府直接发行债券。

埃默里赫称,自2015年初以来发行的估计14.3万亿元人民币的地方政府债券中,只有非常少的资金流入投资项目。

仅有2.5%的“市政”债券专门用于为投资项目筹集资金(见图4)。据万得资讯计算,“混合”类债券(资金既用于投资、也用于偿还债务)总计占比41%。万得的数据显示,55.7%债券发行筹集的资金专门用于偿还各种各样的现有债务。

图4

译者/马柯斯

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