China's Shadow Banking Grinds To A Halt As Bad Debt Surges Most In A Decade

It is probably not a coincidence that just as we learn that "China’s bad loans jumped by the most since 2005 in the third quarter, fueling concern that a cooling economy will be further weakened as banks limit lending to avoid credit risks" that we also learn that in the month of October, China once again slammed the brakes on credit creation, with total new loans dropping to RMB548 billion from RMB857 BN, below the RMB626 BN expected, the lowest monthly expansion in 2014...

... and with the broader Total Social Financing aggregate also tumbling from RMB1050 billion to RMB663 BN, and well below the RMB888 BN consensus estimate.


As the following chart shows the main reason for China's relentless slowdown in its growth pace, which only two years ago was expected to rebound back into the double digits soon (at least according to the IMF), is the ongoing contraction in credit formation, which rising at 13.2% for new loans and 15.4% for TSF outstanding, was the lowest credit expansion recorded in China also since 2005.

So what is the main culprit for the contraction in China's all important credit formation? In two words: shadow banking. As Bank of America summarizes "shadow banking is being tamed" because "the changing structure of TSF suggests that Beijing’s efforts in controlling some types of shadow banking have made some achievements. Two major drivers for the steep decline of TSF from Sept to Oct were the falling of non-discounted bills (down RMB241bn) and falling trust loans (down RMB22bn). By contrast, new corporate bonds were at RMB242bn, a sharp rise from RMB151bn in Sept."

Breaking this further down:

  • New trust loans posted a negative RMB22bn in October compared with a fall of RMB33bn in September. New entrusted loans declined to RMB138bn in October from RMB161bn in September.
  • Non-discounted bankers acceptance (BA) decreased by another RMB241bn in October after decreasing by RMB669bn between July and September. The new deposit deviation ratio regulation has significantly restricted those manipulations via BA issuance, which may boost balance sheet.

In other words, China's shadow banking not only ground to a halt, it actually continued moving in reverse!

A better explanation comes from JPMorgan:

The monthly Chinese money and credit figures released this week showed continued contraction in the share of shadow bank intermediation in new credit creation. Figure 6 shows that the share of shadow banks, proxied by the ratio of monthly total social financing over monthly new bank loans, has been on a downward trajectory since the end of 2013, experiencing its fourth episode of slowing since 2010. As of October this year, our smoothed trend in the share of shadow bank intermediation (blue line in Figure 6) stood at its lowest level since 2009. The previous episodes of slowing in shadow bank intermediation during the first halves of 2010, 2011 and 2013 did not see such a sustained pace of contraction. This likely reflects the impact of regulatory tightening on shadow banking activity. With the ratio in Figure 6 approaching 1.0, the picture we are getting is of almost all of new credit creation in China being intermediated via traditional rather than shadow banks currently.


In other words, as China finally reveals little by little the true extent of its gargantuan bad debt problem (which is far worse than ever in history, although Beijing is taking its time in making the necessary revelations: and after all Chinese banks are all SOEs - if needed they can all just get a few trillions renminbi in in liquidity injections a la the "developed west"), it is also slamming the breaks on the shadow banking system that for years what the sector where marginal credit creation, and thus growth as well as bad debt formation, was rampant.

And as Japan showed so clearly just 48 hours after the end of America's own QE3, reserves, like credit and money, are infinitely fungible in the global interconnected market. And infinitely, no pun intended, in demand, because if one central bank ends the goosing of risky assets, another has to immediately step in its place.

So while it has been widely documented that Japan is doing all in its power to crush the Japanese economy and in the process to send the Nikkei to all time highs, little has been said about a far greater slowdown in domestic (and indirectly global) credit creation using the "China" channel, where shadow banking has just slammed shut.

Finally recall: it was the epic collapse in America's own shadow banking liabilities in the aftermath of the Fannie and Freddie, and shortly thereafter, Lehman bankruptcy, which wiped out $8 trillion from the US shadow banking peak, that was the main reason for the Fed's relentless intervention and attempts to reflate systemic funding since then.

If the shadow banking collapse virus has finally jumped to China, there is no saying just how far Chinese GDP can drop if it is now constrained on the top side by surge in bad debt. One thing is certain: Japan's paltry, in the grand scheme of things, expansion in its own QE will barely be felt if the record Chinese credit creation dynamo is indeed slamming shut.