Why Chinese Inflation Risk Is Over Three Times Greater Than In America

As everyone awaits (or doubts) the next coordinated central planning bank action - whether Fed QE (Lockhart stymied?), ECB 'bottomless pockets' (Merkel's back), or China RRR (reverse repos?) - the prices of things we need (as opposed to want) continue to rise. Nowhere is this more important than in China with its extremely high levels (and volatility) of deposit flows increasingly levered to re-inflationary actions by the PBoC. The critical aspect of the following analysis is that in the US, the stock market acts as an 'inflation buffer' for the rich's excess disposable income; in China, this is not the case and given the greater than 3.4x leverage compared to the US, PBoC actions flow much more rapidly through the populace to the things they need - and right now more inflation is not what they need or want - which perhaps explains the reverse-repo 'gradual' tightening.


1) Chinese deposit volatility is massively high and extremely prone to 'inverse' window-dressing (as Bloomberg's chart of the day pointed out yesterday) which makes the PBoC's role as credit-monitor very hard. The chart below shows the outrageously obvious pump up in deposits (lower pane) as banks offer incentives to attract deposits and meet PBoC regulatory needs - only to let them flow back out and tighten their offers after...


2) This exaggerates any mistake or action they make but more critically the fact that in the US Depo-to-GDP is 0.55: 1 (USD8.8tn Deposits against USD15.8tn GDP) but in China it is 1.9:1 (USD13.8tn Deposits against USD7.3tn GDP - USD equivalent) - a 3.45x ratio that greatly exacerbates any easing impact of a RRR as deposits flow more dramatically; which leads to a critical and most important point;


3) Why do Chinese people not like their stock market? In the US those 'deposits' flow straight into an inflation buffer - the US equity market (or AAPL). The lack of flows into Chinese stocks given the size of their deposits suggests legacy savings attitudes remain solid or fear of fraud are prevalent.


The point being that if the US had the same amount of cash in deposits as China (on a relative basis), the US would have an epic inflation problem right now but since the rich, who have all the disposable income, simply redirect cash into the stock casino market, stocks serve as an inflation offset.

Without a wholesale shift in Chinese attitudes towards risk, given their clear 'trust' issues, inflationary impacts of PBoC action will remain far more important than the Fed's (for now).


Charts: Bloomberg