Standard & Poor's has expressed concern over China's growing corporate debt pile, which stands at almost $16.1 trillion.
Beijing has been in a tough spot over the past few weeks, narrowly avoiding a crisis in its stock markets with heavy-handed intervention. According to a recent report from Reuters, the world’s largest pile of corporate debt, almost $16.1 trillion and rising, poses a serious threat to China’s dragging economy.
China’s corporate debts are now at 160 percent of the GDP, a level twice that of the U.S. Analysts from credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s predict that corporate debt could shoot up 77 percent to $28.8 trillion over the next five years.
Until now, most of Beijing’s economic policy interventions have been geared towards supporting rigorous growth, which is projected to reach a 25-year low this year. The government has cut interest rates four times since November, and has also reduced the reserve requirement for banks and removed lending limits. This could soon slip out of control and become disastrous.
Though China wants more of its credit going to smaller, innovative companies, there is still concern that interventions will result in even more debt piling up. According to Louis Kujs, RBS chief economist for Greater China, “When the credit taps are opened, risks rise that the money is going to ‘problematic’ companies or entities.”
China’s banks issued 1.28 trillion yuan in new loans this June, which is equivalent to $206 billion. Standard and Poor’s says that the rapid growth of debt in China, the opacity of risk and pricing, and the very high debt-to-GDP ratio are a dangerous mixture.
China has been notorious for breaking conceptions about economic growth, and it looks like they may have to come up with some innovative ways to address their growing corporate debt very soon.