"China's Debt Has Grown $4.5 Trillion In Past 12 Months, More Than The US, Japan And Europe Combined"
While concerns about China's debt load, capital flows, and depreciating currency have been pushed to the back-burner in recent months, perhaps facilitated by a welcome rebound in global inflation - perceived by markets and global central bankers that monetary policy is finally working - it is worth a quick reminder of how we got here.
First, a quick trip through memory lane to remind us how much has changed in just the past year.
In a note by Morgan Stanley's Chetan Ahya released on Sunday, the strategist reminds us that a little more than a year ago, the global economy was facing intense disinflationary pressures. Global commodity prices were declining significantly and the slowdown in China and other major commodity-producing EMs had led to some concerns that it could pull developed markets into recession and drag inflation down along with it. At the same time, in China, producer prices fell by almost 6%Y and the regime change in its currency management approach meant that China was no longer absorbing disinflationary pressures from abroad.
And while this seems like a distant memory today, thanks to China which has played a pivotal role in driving the global inflation cycle – this time on the upside – as the cyclical recovery has both lifted China’s own inflation and transmitted it globally, here is how this happened: the recovery in China has been driven by yet another round of debt indulgence. Debt in China has grown by US$4.5 trillion over the past 12 months, by far the highest amount of debt creation globally as compared to US$2.2 trillion in the US, US$870 billion in Japan and US$550 billion in the euro area. Indeed, China on its own has added more debt than the US, Japan and the euro area combined.
While we have shown the IIF's forecast of Chinese debt countless times in recent months, here it is once again to put China's unprecedented debt expansion in context:
Furthermore, as we noted last week, for the first time Chinese domestic debt liabilities crossed the 200 trillion yuan threshold, just shy of $20 trillion. This has been driven primarily as a result of an exponential increase in Chinese corporate debt which has grown from $4.5 trillion in 2008 to over $17 trillion as of 2016, even as Chinese GDP growth has been cut in half from 12% to 6% as trillions in non-performing loans - by some estimates as much as 20% of total loans - clog up the debt-growth transmission machinery.