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Shadow financing is seen as one of the culprits behind China’s property-price surge, and regulators have banned  private-equity lending to developers for land purchases.
Shadow financing is seen as one of the culprits behind China’s property-price surge, and regulators have banned  private-equity lending to developers for land purchases.

China Fights to Bring Market Under Control

Since regulators ramped up their measures to curb financial leverage at the start of April, China’s shadow banking activities have been in the cross-hairs

China Fights to Bring Market Under Control

China’s drive to reduce its debt burden has shifted into a higher gear following the Communist Party’s twice-a-decade congress in October. Regulators have set their sights on a key pressure point—shadow banking—with rules around asset-management products tightened last week as they seek to bring the market under control.
But these popular, high-yielding products are just one slice of China’s sizable banking leverage pie, characterized by state media as the “original sin” of the financial system, Bloomberg reported.
Even if credit growth eases, China’s debt is on track to be more than three times the size of the economy by 2022, Bloomberg Economics estimates. To understand why Beijing is taking on this challenge, you need to break it down.
Leverage has been swelling over the past decade, partly because policy makers were trying to cushion a slowdown in growth from the old normal of 10% plus. What’s fueled the debt machine has been a rapid expansion in household and corporate wealth looking for higher returns in a system where bank interest rates have been held down.
The equivalent of trillions of dollars are held in all manner of assets in China, from the high-return wealth management products to so-called entrusted investments.

WMPs' Popularity
Taking the heftiest piece of the leverage pile first, wealth management products, or WMPs, have had a precipitous rise over the past few years, but now seem to be feeling the heat of deleveraging. This is the asset class that is coming under renewed scrutiny from regulators.
A way for borrowers who have trouble getting traditional bank loans to secure funding, WMPs have grown in popularity as they typically give savers much higher yields than banks offer on deposits.
WMPs are also a hit because they give lenders a way to keep loans off their balance sheets, and to skirt regulatory requirements when channeling funds to borrowers, according to Raymond Yeung, chief economist for Greater China at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in Hong Kong.
Regulatory moves have seen the amount of WMPs outstanding taper off from a peak in April, with the latest figures showing levels holding steady as of the end of June. The latest measures, unveiled on Friday, seek to increase supervision while removing the potential moral hazards posed by the investments.
Turning to loans by banks to non-financial institutions, this is an area that’s only started to come off over the past few months, edging down from a peak in June.

Deleveraging Drive
President Xi Jinping has backed the deleveraging drive, which he’s characterized as a way to cleanse risk from China’s financial system. People’s Bank of China chief Zhou Xiaochuan has also thrown his weight behind addressing the debt issue, delivering a string of warnings about it over the past month.
Since regulators ramped up their measures to curb financial leverage at the start of April, China’s shadow banking activities have been in the cross-hairs.
The most popular forms include entrusted loan agreements (when a company lends money to another company with the bank as the middleman), trust loans (where banks use money raised from WMPs to invest in trust plans, with the proceeds eventually going to a corporate borrower) and bankers’ acceptances (a bank-backed guarantee for a future payment).
Data compiled by Bloomberg Economics tracking all three forms show shadow banking has held its own amid the debt crackdown, reaching a fresh record 26.8 trillion yuan ($4 trillion) at the end of August, the latest data available.

Shadow Financing
Shadow financing is seen as one of the culprits behind China’s property-price surge, and regulators have banned private-equity lending to developers for land purchases. Banks also were told in March to submit reports on their entrusted investments—funds that Chinese lenders farm out to external asset managers—and Beijing extended the deadline mid-year after some struggled to determine the scope of their exposures.
More directly connected to financial markets are repurchase agreements, where participants can get cash for set periods. A key tool for officials to rein in borrowing has been boosting funding costs in the money market.
And indeed, the amount of repos outstanding has come off since reaching a peak at the end of June, dipping to 9.63 trillion yuan at the end of October.

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