Tag: China Household Debt

Household Debt in China has become a Thing

WSJ – The Trouble With Rate Cuts in China – Mike Bird 8/21/19

This week, the People’s Bank of China revealed a long-anticipated change to how commercial bank interest rates will be calculated. Revealingly, PBOC officials were at pains to stress that while the move might lower interest rates for corporate lending, mortgage interest rates wouldn’t fall.

Eighteen banks now have to show the PBOC the best interest rates they offer to their clients, based on rates set by the central bank’s medium-term lending facility, a source of credit for the banks themselves.

The change has two objectives. One is to lower rates, at least for some loans.

The other is to improve the transmission mechanism for monetary policy: The PBOC wants banks to do a better job of passing changes in policy on to their customers.

The most interesting aspect of the new approach is the deliberate exclusion of real estate. This is likely because Chinese households went on a borrowing spree after the PBOC’s 2015 round of benchmark rate cuts. In 2016, household debt rose by 6.2 trillion yuan ($878.11 billion)—compared with an increase of around 3 trillion yuan a year on average for the previous five years—and only accelerated subsequently.

Which segues nicely to another Mike Bird article.

WSJ – China’s Floundering Crackdown On Household Debt – Mike Bird 8/16/19

Beijing is wisely wary of the decade-long boom in China’s housing market, the consequent build-up in borrowing and what it means for the country’s development model. But in the data there is no sign of a crackdown.

Last week, in its annual Article IV assessment of the Chinese economy, the International Monetary Fund raised its forecasts for Chinese household debt by several percentage points. The IMF expects household debt to rise to 56.2% of GDP this year, and as high as 67.9% of GDP in 2024. The latter figure would be well above current levels in Japan and the eurozone.

In the past 12 months, developers have booked a record 11.7 trillion yuan ($1.66 trillion) in pre-sales—sales of homes due to be completed in the years ahead. Assuming that buyers put down a deposit of around 30%, that is north of 8 trillion yuan in mortgage debt not yet fully on the shoulders of the household sector.

In comparison, Chinese household debt rose by 7.3 trillion yuan between the end of 2017 and the end of 2018, according to data from the Bank for International Settlements. 

The government has good reasons to want to stop the buildup. Many emerging markets have struggled to regain high levels of growth after generating considerable property-related debt, particularly in Asia.

But there is no sign that household debt is even plateauing, let alone declining. Beijing’s stated preference is for an end to speculative household borrowing, but it is proving to be a difficult habit to kick.

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April 27, 2018

Perspective

WSJ – The New Test for Cash-Strapped U.S. States: Teacher Protests – Heather Gillers and Michelle Hackman 4/22

indeed – Teachers in Low-Pay States More Likely to Seek Jobs Outside Education – Andrew Flowers 4/24

Compare cards – Cities Where Credit Card Debt Has Increased and Decreased the Most – Chris Horymski 4/23

Worthy Insights / Opinion Pieces / Advice

Bloomberg Businessweek – Americans Are More Eager Than Ever to Put Down Roots – Sophie Caronello and Brendan Murray 4/24

FT – GoPro CEO salary slashed to $1 after poor 2017 – Tim Bradshaw 4/26

  • “Nick Woodman goes from highest paid US boss in 2014 to bottom of the pack.”

Visual Capitalist – Global Population by Region From 1950 to 2100 (Animation) – Simon Kuestenmacher 4/25

Real Estate

BI – WeWork documents reveal it owes $18 billion in rent and is burning through cash as it seeks more funding – Shona Ghosh 4/25

FT – US housing: how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac became rental powerhouses – Alistair Gray 4/25

  • “Established to make mortgages more affordable and expand US home ownership — Fannie during the Great Depression and Freddie in 1970 — the Treasury propped them up with about $188bn in bailout funds after the housing market meltdown. While Fannie and Freddie have private shareholders, they send most of their profits to the Treasury.”
  • “Since then, far from being reined in as critics demanded in the aftermath of the crisis, the two ‘government-sponsored enterprises’ remain as important as ever; even more so for commercial real estate markets.”
  • “Fannie and Freddie are best known for their principal role as the leading source of financing for owner-occupied mortgages. But for decades, they have played another role in supporting the market for rental housing, by helping finance property companies that acquire or refinance investments in apartment blocks. This second, lower-profile, part of their business has boomed since the crisis.”
  • “By the end of last year the pair had a financial interest in almost $500bn of commercial mortgages, equivalent to 38% of the total outstanding across the US. That compares with almost $200bn, or 25% of the market, a decade ago. Last year alone, the pair financed almost 1.6m rental units.”
  • “The expansion has raised eyebrows in the industry. Competitors that provide this type of finance — banks, life insurance companies and other institutional investors — say the taxpayer’s backing allows Fannie and Freddie to offer borrowers better terms than they can.”
  • “Supporters say the pair have also helped stave off an affordable housing crisis, especially as a new generation of renters has been locked out of the post-crisis recovery. ‘If they didn’t exist, there would be a major problem for multi-family housing,’ says Shekar Narasimhan, managing partner at the real estate group Beekman Advisors, who was the first chair of Fannie Mae’s advisory committee on this type of housing.”
  • “For critics, the pair have played a central role in financing the boom. Developers have completed about 1.3m rental units in the US over the past five years, according to RealPage data, including a record 365,000 in 2017.”
  • “’Aggressive lending practices by the GSEs this cycle have been an important factor in the degree of over-investment and over-valuation of multi-family properties in certain key markets,’ says Michael Shaoul, chief executive of Marketfield Asset Management.”
  • “’I do not think that the GSEs have been as critical in commercial real estate as they were in traditional mortgages a decade ago — but they have perhaps allowed some of the more marginal projects to minimize equity capital this time around.’”

WSJ – Clouds From the Retail Storm Reach Hawaii Real Estate – Esther Fung 4/24

WSJ – Retail Rents Plunge in Major Manhattan Shopping Districts – Keiko Morris 4/25

  • “In all, first quarter annual asking rents for ground floor retail space declined in 13 out of 16 shopping corridors, and the overall average asking rent for those areas dropped 19.5% from the previous year to $653 a square foot, according to a report from real estate services firm CBRE Group Inc.”
  • “The continued drop in retail asking rents comes as no surprise—as traditional companies reshape their businesses to the growth in online shopping, retailers reduce the number of brick-and-mortar stores they operate. Also, merchants continue to balk at high rents. Between 2010 and 2014, average asking rents in Manhattan jumped more than 100% across the 16 retail corridors, according to an earlier report from CBRE.”

Energy

Reuters – Chevron evacuates Venezuela executives following staff arrests – Alexandra Ulmer, Marianna Parraga, Ernest Scheyder 4/25

  • “U.S. oil major Chevron Corp has evacuated executives from Venezuela after two of its workers were imprisoned over a contract dispute with state-owned oil company PDVSA, according to four sources familiar with the matter.”
  • “The Chevron workers may face charges of treason for refusing to sign a supply contract for furnace parts drawn up by PDVSA executives, Reuters reported earlier this week. The workers balked at the high costs of the parts and a lack of competitive bids.”

WSJ – Daily Shot: US Gross Crude Oil Exports 4/20

Health / Medicine

Economist – A typical American birth costs as much as delivering a royal baby – The Data Team 4/23

WSJ – Retirees Are Less Confident About Having Enough to Live On – Anne Tergesen 4/24

China

Bloomberg – A $7 Trillion Debt Pile Looms Large Over Chinese Households – Tian Chen, James Mayger, Heng Xie, Ling Zeng, and Emma Dong 4/24