China's Liquidity Traps & Benefits
China has been ramping up lending over the last 7 months. Yes, it was with good intentions. Yes, it was actual lending not just for show. Yes, banks in China were "asked" to do their bit to lend aggressively. While there is a lot of good to have money circulating around, it will also weigh down on those borrowing on the "unqualified" end of the spectrum, people who willing take on more debt than they should. Its a mini time bomb. No, it will not implode yet. What the figures below shows to me is that China's equity markets will have a major run up right through the end of 2009. When you pump in so much liquidity, there are very few places for it to surface. We may see a combustion effect only maybe in the second half of 2010.
China's credit card debt that was at least six months overdue rose 133.1 percent year on year in the first quarter to 4.97 billion yuan (727.67 million U.S. dollars), the People's Bank of China, or the central bank. Debt overdue by six months or more accounted for 3 percent of the total outstanding credit card debt at the end of March, or 0.6percentage point more than in the same period last year, the report said.
It warned of potential risks of the increasing overdue credit card debt as financial institutions expanded their credit card business. As of March 31, Chinese banks had issued more than 150 million credit cards, or 0.11 card per person, up 42.9 percent year on year. But Chinese consumers still have relatively few credit cards, compared with 4.39 per person in the United States and 0.95 in Brazil. Outstanding credit card loans rose 87.6 percent year-on-year to165.86 billion yuan at the end of March.
This month's figure may be the third-highest this year after March's and January's, the China Securities Journal reported yesterday, citing people it didn't identify. That would also represent a sharp jump from May's 664.5 billion yuan.
The news, coming in the wake of the central bank's remark on Thursday that it will stick to an appropriately loose monetary policy to support economic growth, sent bank shares higher yesterday on expectations of better profit.
Shanghai Pudong Development Bank gained 3.79 percent to 22.98 yuan while the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the country's biggest lender, rose 2.02 percent to 5.55 yuan, easily outperforming the key Shanghai Composite Index.
Earlier this week, the China Banking Regulatory Commission demanded that lenders avoid a sudden jump in loans at the end of each month and each quarter, a move used by domestic banks to meet internal targets.
The regulator told lenders to ensure the money is channeled to the right sectors such as small businesses to help stimulate the economy, and to monitor capital flow into the stock and property markets.
This month's lending surge was mainly fueled by mortgage loans and funding of government projects, the Journal said.
The new bank loans in the first five months of the year have reached 5.84 trillion yuan, more than last year's total and exceeding the government's target of 5 trillion yuan for this year.
p/s photos: Zhou Weitong