Inquiring minds are questioning the solvency of the Chinese banking system. Please consider China Defaulting Loans Soar, Insolvency Lawyer Says.

Non-performing loans in China have risen into the “trillions of renminbi” because of poor lending practices, an insolvency lawyer said.

“We work really closely with SASAC, the state-owned enterprise regulator in China, and there are literally trillions and trillions of renminbi of, frankly, defaulting loans already in China that no one is doing anything about,” Neil McDonald, a Hong Kong-based business restructuring and insolvency partner with Lovells LLP, said at an Asia-Pacific Loan Market Association conference yesterday. “At some point there’s going to be a reckoning for that.”

China’s government is tightening controls, including banks’ reserve ratios, to prevent record lending from fueling inflation. The Shanghai office of the China Banking Regulatory Commission warned yesterday that a 10 percent fall in property values would treble the number of delinquent loans in the city. Liu Mingkang, chairman of the CBRC, said Jan. 4 that loans were channeled into stock and property speculation last year, which China has been taking measures to stop. CBRC’s press officer is not immediately available for comment today.

Chinese banks issued a record 9.6 trillion yuan ($1.4 trillion) of new loans last year as part of a 4 trillion yuan stimulus package aimed at bolstering growth through the global financial crisis.

Should property prices fall 10 percent in Shanghai, China’s second-most-expensive property market, the ratio of delinquent mortgages would almost triple for the city’s banks to 1.18 percent, according to the Shanghai branch of the CBRC yesterday, citing a stress test based on Sept. 30 figures. A 30 percent decline would cause the ratio to jump almost fivefold, the agency said.

Fitch Ratings said Dec. 17 that Chinese banks’ capital strength is probably more “strained” than it appears as lenders use more off-balance sheet transactions to make room for loans.

I am amazed at the number of people sucked into the “China Story”, about how undervalued the RMB is, and what amazing growth China has. The real story is China is a command economy, printing trillions of RMB, funding numerous apartment complexes, malls, and even entire cities where no one lives.

In centrally planned economies, when the government says lend, banks lend. Supposedly this is “growth”. It isn’t. One must not mistake Ponzi financing for growth.

The US, led by Hillary Clinton and president Obama, is putting enormous pressure on China to float the RMB, in expectation that it would rise and US exports would soar. I believe that if China floated the RMB on the Forex markets, it might crash.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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