Thursday, July 23, 2015
Capital exodus from China reaches $800bn as crisis deepens
China is engineering yet another mini-boom. Credit is picking up again. The Communist Party has helpfully outlawed falling equity prices.
Economic growth will almost certainly accelerate over the next few months, giving global commodity markets a brief reprieve.
Yet the underlying picture in China is going from bad to worse. Robin Brooks at Goldman Sachs estimates that capital outflows topped $224bn in the second quarter, a level "beyond anything seen historically".
The Chinese central bank (PBOC) is being forced to run down the country's foreign reserves to defend the yuan. This intervention is becoming chronic. The volume is rising. Mr Brooks calculates that the authorities sold $48bn of bonds between March and June.
Charles Dumas at Lombard Street Research says capital outflows - when will we start calling it capital flight? - have reached $800bn over the past year. These are frighteningly large sums of money.
China's bond sales automatically entail monetary tightening. What we are seeing is the mirror image of the boom years, when the PBOC was accumulating $4 trillion of reserves in order to hold down the yuan, adding extra stimulus to an economy that was already overheating.
The squeeze earlier this year came at the worst moment, just as the country was struggling to emerge from recession. I use the term recession advisedly. Looking back, we may conclude that the world economy came within a whisker of stalling in the first half of 2015.
The Dutch CPB's world trade index shows that shipping volumes contracted by 1.2pc in May, and have been negative in four of the past five months. This is extremely rare. It would usually imply a global recession under the World Bank's definition.
The epicentre of this crunch has clearly been in China, with cascade effects through Russia, Brazil and the commodity nexus.
Chinese industry ground to a halt earlier this year. Electricity use fell. Rail freight dropped at near double-digit rates. What had begun as a deliberate policy by Beijing to rein in excess credit escaped control, escalating into a vicious balance-sheet purge.
The Chinese authorities have tried to counter the slowdown by talking up an irresponsible stock market boom in the state-controlled media. This has been a fiasco of the first order.
Credit to The Telegraph