【英语中国】中国收紧信贷对亚洲不利 China credit crackdown risks causing a drought

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所属分类:双语中国

2014-2-14 09:13

小艾摘要: A milestone of sorts was reached last year when, for the first time ever, more bank credit as a percentage of GDP went to emerging markets than developed markets.That is not exactly counterintuitive, ...
China credit crackdown risks causing a drought
A milestone of sorts was reached last year when, for the first time ever, more bank credit as a percentage of GDP went to emerging markets than developed markets.

That is not exactly counterintuitive, since emerging markets, especially in Asia, have always relied heavily on credit to fuel their growth.

When the European banks seized up following the global financial crisis that began in the US, the concern was almost as great in Asia as it was in Europe itself. The concern was especially intense because European banks accounted for a huge part of trade finance, the lifeblood of Asia. At that time, though, regional banks were able to largely fill the gap. Moreover, the US Federal Reserve was about to flood the world with liquidity, with much of it flowing to emerging markets. The cost of capital remained low, allowing these markets to continue to grow.

Now, though, these benign trends are reversing – and arguably there is worse to come. The cost of capital is going up for emerging markets and as it does so, growth will slow. That in itself is unlikely to trigger a crisis but will lead to problems for many indebted emerging market companies, fuelling bad debts at the banks. That in turn will make the cost of capital go even higher.

China is a big factor in this new dynamic. Today, the world is focusing on the implications of slower growth in China. But it also needs to start focusing on the role of Chinese banks as a source of liquidity for neighbours and emerging markets generally.

Shadow banks

Any capital crunch in China is not immediately obvious. So far, much of the concern over China has to do with excessive growth of credit, which is now close to 180 per cent of GDP. A new study from the Institute of International Finance shows that Chinese international bank loans amounted to almost $100bn last year, a jump of more than 60 per cent since 2011. (The figure excludes Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.)

Since the study relies on data on publicly announced loans, that number probably understates the extent of activity. Moreover, Chinese banks lend to corporate borrowers that otherwise might have trouble attracting capital, such as in Pakistan or Bangladesh.

But excess credit growth may soon be yesterday’s problem. As the Chinese regulators put pressure on the shadow banks by implementing periodic liquidity squeezes, they will chill all banking activity and make the price of all money more expensive, since the line between the regulated and unregulated world is so porous.

In addition, the dynamic at home is also changing the way the Chinese banks price their money. Competition from the shadow banks that can offer much higher returns than banks that set deposit rates artificially low means household savings are increasingly less likely to go into bank deposits. That in turn means banks have an increasingly hard time giving loans to favoured borrowers at artificially low rates. Now, Chinese banks are having liquidity troubles of their own, compelling them to ask borrowers not to draw down credit lines.

Rules making it difficult for whole classes of borrowers, such as property developers, to access credit at all mean some Chinese borrowers are going offshore to international capital markets for capital and competing with other borrowers in the process, driving up prices there too. International debt securities from Chinese issuers rose by a factor of five from the end of 2009 to the end of the third quarter of last year to a total of $240bn, according to data from the Bank for International Settlements cited by Christopher Wood, an analyst at CLSA.

Liquidity dries up

Other sources of liquidity for Chinese banks are also drying up. Executives at international and regional banks that have provided funds to second-tier Chinese banks in the wholesale market say they are cutting back, concerned about declining creditworthiness of such counterparties.

All this would matter less if there was less confusion about the state of the US economy and Fed policy. The disparity in analyst predictions about where 10-year Treasury yields will be in coming months is becoming wider by the day. Analysts at HSBC say the rate could go as low as about 2 per cent, while others see the rate rising to more than 3.5 per cent.

Regulators appear to be speaking with forked tongues. Some are still wedded to low rates. But at the same time, they are either trying to squeeze the shadow banks, as in China, to drive activity into the official sector, or they are squeezing the banks, driving activity into the shadow banks, as in the US.

In either case, they may or may not be making their financial system safer – but they are surely making the cost of money go up for most borrowers in the real world.

去年,新兴市场的银行信贷与国内生产总值(GDP)之比首次超过发达市场,成为某种意义上的一块里程碑。

这并不违背常理,因为新兴市场,尤其是在亚洲,一向严重依赖信贷推动经济增长。

始于美国的全球金融危机爆发后,欧洲各银行陷入运转不灵。亚洲对此的关注程度几乎与欧洲一样大。之所以如此紧张,是因为欧洲各银行在亚洲的命脉——贸易金融中占据了很大一部分。不过,当时亚洲各银行能够基本上填补缺口。此外,美联储(Fed)随即向全球输出流动性洪流,其中相当大一部分流入了新兴市场。资本成本保持在较低水平,使新兴市场的经济得以继续增长。

但现在,这股良性趋势正在掉头,而且可以说局面还会变得更糟。新兴市场的资本成本正在上升,导致经济增长放缓。虽然这本身不太可能引发危机,但会给新兴市场许多负债沉重的公司造成困难,加剧银行坏账问题,进而导致资本成本进一步升高。

中国是这个新格局中的一大因素。现在,全世界都聚焦于中国增长放缓带来的影响。但世界也需要开始关注中国各银行作为邻国乃至新兴市场整体的流动资金来源的角色。

影子银行

中国的任何资金紧张不会马上表现出来。迄今人们对中国的大部分担忧都与信贷过度增长有关,目前中国的信贷总量已接近GDP的180%。国际金融协会(Institute of International Finance)的一项新研究显示,中国去年的国际银行贷款总额将近1000亿美元,比2011年高出60%以上。(香港、澳门、台湾排除在这一数字以外。)

由于这项研究依据官方公布的贷款数额,因此很可能有所低估。此外,中国的银行还向那些原本难以融资的企业借款人(比如在巴基斯坦和孟加拉国)发放贷款。

但信贷过度增长的问题也许很快就会成为“昨天的问题”。中国监管机构时不时执行流动性紧缩政策,借此向影子银行施压,此举将冷却银行业一切活动,使一切资金的成本上涨,因为受监管世界和不受监管世界之间的界线实在太模糊。

此外,本土格局的市场变化也在改变中国各银行对资金定价的方式。影子银行的回报要比存款利率被人为压低的银行高出许多,这种竞争意味着家庭储蓄流向银行存款的可能性越来越小。这进而意味着,银行以人为的低利率向其偏爱的借款人放贷越来越难。如今,中国的银行受自身流动性问题的困扰,不得不请求借款人暂缓提取安排好的信贷额度。

现行政策使某些类别的借款人(比如房地产开发商)难以贷到款,这意味着部分中国借款人在前往国际资本市场获取资金,在此过程中与其他借款人竞争,推高国际市场的资金价格。里昂证券(CLSA)分析师克里斯托弗?伍德(Christopher Wood)援引的国际清算银行(Bank for International Settlements)数据显示,从2009年底至2013年第三季度结束,中国发行者发行的国际债券增加了5倍,总额达2400亿美元。

流动性枯竭

中国各银行其他的流动性来源也正逐步枯竭。在批发市场为中国二线银行提供资金的国际和地区银行的高管们表示,出于对此类交易对手信用可靠性下降的担忧,他们正在收紧资金。

如果人们对美国经济和美联储(Fed)政策少一点困惑,那么上述所有问题的严重性就不会这么高。对于未来几个月美国10年期国债的收益率走势如何,分析师们的分歧正变得越来越大。汇丰(HSBC)的分析师说,收益率可能低至2%,但其他人的预期则超过3.5%。

监管者们显得言不由衷。一些人仍然坚持低利率。但与此同时,他们要么在(像中国那样)试图挤压影子银行、将活动推向正规市场,要么在(像美国那样)试图挤压正规银行、将活动引向影子银行。

不管是哪种情形,监管者能否使各自的金融体系更安全还很难说。但对于现实世界的多数借款人而言,他们使资金成本走高这一点却是事实。

译者/曲雯雯、沈希

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