CHINA TOPIX

Updated 6:02 PM EDT, Wed, Apr 01, 2020

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China's Unsustainable Debt can Lead to Financial Outburst in the Long Run: Experts

China's Recurring Debt Could Lead to Financial Outburst

(Photo : Getty Images/ Martin Barraud) Economists say that China's total debt may result in a prolonged slowdown of the country's economic growth

China's total debt increased to 249 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter of this year. According to some economists, this could result in a prolonged slowdown of the country's economic growth.

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) released data showing that emerging markets as a group had lower debts  in the third quarter of last year, at 175 percent of the GDP.

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The BIS data suggests that China owes a debt of 249 percent of its GDP, comparable to the Europe level of 270 percent and the US level of 248 percent.

Ha Jiming, Goldman Sachs Chief Investment Strategist, wrote in a report this year that "Every major country with a rapid increase in debt has experienced either a financial crisis or a prolonged slowdown in GDP growth."

According to Financial Times, Beijing has already resorted to massive lending to help raise economic growth, allowing for a total net debt of 162 trillion yuan ($25 trillion) at the end of March, both domestic and foreign borrowing counted.

While the total amount of debt is a recurring problem for China, one of greater concern is how quickly the debt was accumulated as China's debt was only 148 percent of its GDP back in 2007.

According to economists, it will be difficult for any economy to effectively distribute a large amount of capital within a short period if there are only a limited number of profitable projects available. With the low capital returns, the country is bound to resort to unprecedented loans.

As Beijing spends to support short-term growth as well as to counter long-term financial crisis, its new borrowing surged by 6.2 trillion yuan ($95 million) in the first three months of 2016. According to Central Bank data, this is the biggest three-month surge on record.

Billionaire investor George Soros has shown concern for China saying that "the situation eerily resembles what happened during the financial crisis in the U.S. in 2007-08, which was similarly fuelled by credit growth." Soros also mentioned that the current debt of China is twice the size of its GDP, adding that "It can reach a turning point later than everyone expects. Most of the damage occurred in later years. It's a parabolic cycle."

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