Bank of America warns of ‘lethal’ damage to China’s financial system as deflation deepens

‘Deflation, Devaluation, and Default’ loom in China this year. The denouement for Shanghai’s bourse will not be pretty, says the US bank.

China is at mounting risk of a financial crisis this year as growth sputters and deflationary pressures trigger a wave of defaults, Bank of America has warned.

The US lender told clients that a confluence of forces are coming together that threaten to chill the speculative mania on the Shanghai stock exchange and to expose the underlying fragility of China’s $26 trillion edifice of debt.

“A credit crunch is highly probable,” said the bank in a report entitled “Deflation, Devaluation, and Default”, written by David Cui and Tracy Tian.

They said the country’s highly-leveraged companies cannot safely withstand President Xi Jinping’s drive to stamp out moral hazard and wean the country off excess credit, warning that the mix of slower growth and excess debt “could prove lethal for the financial system”.

The report warned that it is rare for countries to escape either a financial crisis, or major bank failures, a currency upset, a sovereign crisis – or a mix of these – after letting credit grow at such vertiginous rates.

“The most likely scenario is a bad debt surge as growth slows, followed by a credit crunch in the shadow banking system, followed by a major recapitalisation of the banks,” said Mr Cui.

Mr Cui said the explosive rise on the Shanghai stock market – up 50pc in barely three months – is being driven by “blue-sky talk” and $180bn of margin lending from brokers. It is happening at a time of deteriorating earnings. “When the sell-off happens, we suspect that it will not be orderly,” he said. The Shanghai composite index may fall back from 3,300 to 2,400 before it settles in a trading range.

Full article: Bank of America warns of ‘lethal’ damage to China’s financial system as deflation deepens (The Telegraph)

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