Lurking in the Shadows—The Risks from Nonbank Intermediation in China


By Nigel Chalk

(Version in 中文)

One of my all-time favorite movies is “The Third Man” starring Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten. It is a British film noir from the 1940s. Perhaps the most striking part of the movie is the shadowy cinematography, set in post-World War II Vienna. Strangely, it springs to mind lately when I have been thinking of China.

Many China-watchers looked on in awe in 2009 as the government’s response to the global financial crisis unfolded, causing bank lending as a share of the economy to expand by close to 20 percentage points in less than a year. This, subsequently, led to a lot of hand-wringing about the consequences of those actions and the eventual credit quality problems that China would have to confront and manage.

However, around the same time, a less visible phenomenon was also getting underway. One that, like Orson Welles’ character in the movie, resided firmly in the shadows. Various types of nonbank financial intermediaries—some new, some old—were gearing up to provide a conduit through which China’s high savings would be tapped to finance the corporate sector. The available data on this is terrible—the central bank’s numbers on social financing are the only credible and comprehensive public source, but even that gives only a partial picture.

Talking to people in China, and looking at what numbers are available, one cannot help but have an uneasy feeling that more credit is now finding its way into the economy outside of the banking system than is actually flowing through the banks. Continue reading

Asia: Leading the Global Recovery


By Anoop Singh

(Version in 中文,  日本語 and 한국어)

I am in China this week to present our new Asia-Pacific Regional Economic Outlook in Shanghai. I remain as impressed as ever by China’s energy and vibrant growth, an impression that is reinforced every time I return to this country.

China is of course an important part of Asia. And Asia is now a key driver of the global recovery. Indeed, as the world climbs out of its deepest recession in over half a century, it is Asia that is leading the recovery. While growth in the advanced world is being held back for now by unemployment and weak household and bank balance sheets, in the emerging world – and particularly Asia – it is rebounding strongly.

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