Net lending declines by 70-80% in Q2 in China

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This very interesting note from Jun Ma, chief economist for Greater China at Deutsche Bank (see the end of this post) offers evidence to support what this blog has been worried about for some time – the quality of China’s economic rebound.

The government would presumably be less concerned about the sharp increase in loan growth if the extra money had substantially boosted domestic consumption.

Instead, a large portion of the new loans could well have ended up in the hands of speculators (helping to drive chemicals prices up), Factories also seem to have been encouraged to keep operating rates high for social reasons – and state-owned enterprises area wash with cash for industriall investments. This is crowding out borrowing by private companies.

My fellow, Paul Hodges, points out that Wal-Mart is actually reporting a decline in consumer spending at its stores in China.

Net lending falls 70%mom to RMB592bn in April

RMB net lending fell sharply to RMB592bn in April from RMB1.9tn in March, broadly consistent with our expectation. We believe this reflects the success of the window guidance (about 3 weeks ago) by PBOC and CBRC that advised banks to “appropriately control loan growth”; the decline in new project approvals; as well as the slower pace of equity capital injections from the central government budget.

Going forward, the continuation of these factors will likely lead to a further decline in net lending to about RMB300-400bn per month in the remainder of this year.

As lagging indicators, the yoy growth in outstanding loans remained at 29.7% in April and M2 growth accelerated a little to 26%. Within a few months, we expect these yoy rates will begin to moderate following the decline in monthly net lending.

We see two main implications from the slowdown in net lending. First, net lending is a good leading indicator for QoQ GDP growth in China, with a lead time of about one quarter. The 70-80% fall in QoQ net lending in Q2 implies that QoQ GDP growth will likely moderate in Q3, following its peak in Q2 (at an annualized rate of 12-14%). Together with other factors such as a more visible corporate capex slowdown and a less supportive inventory cycle, it will likely result in a second phase of economic deceleration (measured on a QoQ basis) from Q3. On a YoY basis, the second down-leg of the economic cycle will likely begin in Q1 next year, as YoY growth lags QoQ growth by about two quarters. Second, net lending has a high correlation with market turnover in the A share market. The decline in net lending growth will therefore likely be associated with reduced liquidity for the A share market going forward.

Yoy inflation falls further in April

CPI inflation declined to -1.5% yoy in April, down from -1.2% in March. Producer prices are also declining, falling 6.6% yoy in April, vs a fall of 6.0% in March. Both figures are identical to our forecasts. In the CPI index, a 0.8%mom decline in food prices led the index down. Other commodity prices were essentially unchanged on the month according to the Ministry of Commerce. We expect yoy CPI inflation to remain in negative territory for another three or four months and PPI inflation to remain negative for six months. Upside risks to inflation stem from the possibility of higher wheat prices after a drought earlier in the year and the possibility of higher pork prices as farmers have slaughtered pigs in recent weeks due to the 10% drop in pork prices amid the Swine Flu outbreak (note that mainland China reported its first confirmed swine flu case today). Month-on-month PPI inflation – much more influenced by non-food raw materials prices – should recover on stronger demand due to rising gov’t-led capex and inventory restocking in coming months, but these price increases may not be sustained beyond mid-Q3 when we think the QoQ increase in the number of new projects starts to fall and the inventory cycle turns less favorable.

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