Friday, February 14, 2014

When looking at China's credit bubble - the looming shadow banking time bomb , the insane wealth management products black hole , freezing if not completely frozen chinese capital markets .... does this explain in part China's voracious demand for gold ?

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-02-14/western-banks-and-china-interesting-times-are-coming



Western Banks And China: "Interesting Times" Are Coming

Tyler Durden's picture





 
Submitted by Pater Tenebrarum of Acting-Man blog,

Western Bank Exposure to Mainland China Explodes Higher – Australia Vulnerable

We recently cited the work of Sean Darby, equity strategist at Jefferies, regarding the exposure of Hong Kong banks to the Mainland (see: “How Dangerous is China's Credit Bubble for the World” for details). Although Hong Kong is technically part of China, it is a foreign country in terms of its economic system and currency, and should therefore be regarded as a foreign creditor. In fact, the incentives that mainly influence the business decisions of Hong Kong's banks include the US Federal Reserve's monetary policy as a very important factor, due to the fact that the Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the US dollar via a currency board.
Mr. Darby has in the meantime continued to dig into topic of foreign bank exposure to the Mainland, and has recently released his latest findings. Here is a Bloomberg chart that shows how these claims have grown since 2005:




China Claims
Foreign participation in China's credit boom: note the involvement of French and Australian banks specifically – click to enlarge.



The numbers are as follows at present (the percentage change is since Q1 2011, indicated by the vertical line on the chart above).

Country% changeTotal in US$ 3Q13
Germany     +66%32bn
France +60%41bn
UK  +70% 193bn
Total Europe +70% 329bn
Australia  +230%31bn
US+18%   83bn

The total exposure of Western banks thus amounts to $709 billion. Australia's banks were a bit late to the game, but sure did their best to catch up quickly, as the 230% increase in their claims since 2011 shows.

Aussie Bank CDS has yet to reflect this...

In other words, we now have additional evidence of the growing vulnerability of Australia specifically. As we already pointed out in our musings about how “financial contagion” might spread from China in spite of its closed capital account, Australia is a pivotal region. Australia's economy greatly depends on China's commodity imports, and its banks have financed an enormous real estate bubble on the back of the commodities boom.
Moreover, Australia's banking system itself is highly dependent on foreign short term funding sources. Although the chart above doesn't tell us anything about the maturities of the claims on China, we would not be surprised if many or even most of the loans to China had much longer maturities than the foreign funding Australian banks get from (mainly) Europe. The main point is though that we have yet another source of potential trouble for Australia here – the exposure of Australian banks to China amounts to 9% of Australia's GDP at this point.

 

Lured by High Spreads, Interesting Times Await

As Mr. Darby points out, the amounts have grown quite large in absolute terms. Banks have evidently been lured by the higher spreads they can earn on loans to Chinese customers, and in large part this is due to the ZIRP policies pursued by major Western central banks. However, higher spreads usually obviously imply higher risk. Adding Hong Kong's exposure to the above numbers, we arrive at about $860 billion in total foreign exposure (ex-Japan we might add).
In the course of this year, some $800bn. of debt issued by 'wealth management products' is coming due in China, and Mr. Darby notes in this context that the potential knock-on effects on Western banks from an increase in non-performing loans in China are probably not properly appreciated at this juncture.
Especially UK banks with a huge $193 bn. in total exposure, as well as Hong Kong banks (approximately $150 bn. in net claims) and Australia's 'big four' banks seem to be in the line of fire here.
Moreover, we must expect that in the event of a shadow banking crisis in China – a highly probable event given what is known about the practices of the sector and the amount of debt coming due in the near future – will have considerable effects on numerous emerging market economies, especially if China should eventually decide to devalue the yuan (currently the yuan seems quite overvalued actually). In that event, both commodity exporters and exporters of semi-finished and final goods that compete with China would feel the pinch.
This would in turn mean that Western banks would not only have to grapple with a possible rise of NPLs in China itself, but also with an even bigger currency and debt crisis in a number of emerging markets. Since many Western banks remain in weak condition following the 2008 crisis and the euro area debt crisis, they will then be inclined to further reduce their lending in their home countries as well, so as to preserve capital. A vicious cycle could easily be triggered.
It is quite ironic in this context that German sentiment data provider Sentix recently noted that 'bullish sentiment on bank stocks has reached a record high'.



20140120_sector_sentiment_jan_engl
Sentix sentiment indicator on European bank stocks storms to a record bullish consensus in late January – click to enlarge.



Conclusion:

There is a very good chance that the crisis that began in 2008 is actually not over by any stretch – it is merely moving from one place to the next. After all, the developments discussed above are a direct result of the reaction of the world's monetary authorities to the initial crisis. China's credit bubble and ZIRP in the US and Europe are all children of the crisis and have evidently sown the seeds for the next crisis. As we always stress, we expect that the next major crisis will eventually lead to a crisis of confidence in said monetary authorities. At some point, faith in central banks is bound to crumble and then we will really experience 'interesting times'.



http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-02-14/chinese-capital-markets-frozen-bad-loans-soar-highest-crisis



Chinese Capital Markets Frozen As Bad Loans Soar To Highest Since Crisis

Tyler Durden's picture





 
Chinese capital markets are quietly turmoiling as debt issues are delayed and demand for "Trust" products - the shadow-banking-system's wealth management 'investments' - is tumbling. As Nikkei reports, since January, 9 companies have postponed or canceled issuance plans (around $1 billion)and is most pronounced in privately-owned companies (who lack an implicit government guarantee). This, of course, is exactly what the PBOC wanted (to instill some fear into these high-yield investors - demand - and thus slow the supply of credit to the riskiest over-capacity compenies) but as non-performing loans in China surge to post-crisis highs, fear remains prescient that they will be unable to "contain" the problem once real defaults begin (as opposed to 'delays of payment' that we have seen so far).


Chinese banks’ bad loans increased for the ninth straight quarter to the highest level since the 2008 financial crisis, highlighting pressures on asset quality and profit growth as the world’s second-largest economy slows.

Non-performing loans rose by 28.5 billion yuan ($4.7 billion) in the last quarter of 2013 to 592.1 billion yuan, the highest since September 2008, the China Banking Regulatory Commission said in a statement on its website yesterday.

...

Chinese banks are struggling to keep soured loans in check and extend earnings growth as the slowing economy and government efforts to curb shadow financing make it harder for borrowers to repay debt.

“China’s economic growth turned downward with the new leadership switching policy focus to reform and risk management from emphasizing stable expansion,” said Wang Yichuan, a Wuhan-based analyst at Changjiang Securities Co. “Naturally the bad loans will increase along with the change. We expect the deterioration to continue for two more years.”

...

Chinese banks added 89 trillion yuan of assets, mostly through loans, in the past five years, equivalent to the entire U.S. banking industry’s, CBRC data show. By comparison, U.S. commercial banks held $14.6 trillion of assets at the end of September, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Investors are increasingly concerned that China’s investment through borrowing since 2008 may trigger a financial crisis
Concerns over potential defaults on high-yield financial products are making Chinese companies put some debt issues on hold due to wary investors, as well as posing a potential new risk to the global economy.

Since January, nine companies have postponed or canceled issuance plans for a total of 5.75 billion yuan ($948.24 million) in bonds and commercial paper, equivalent to about 2% of the debt issued over the period.

This is most pronounced among privately operated companies, whose lack of government backing has meant less interest from potential investors than hoped.

Demand has been dulled by worries over defaults on so-called wealth management products, a feature of China's shadow banking system.

Broader credit risks have driven interest rates up, and the gap between corporate debt and more-creditworthy government bonds is widening. Average yields on AA-rated seven-year corporate bonds reached 8.44% in mid-January.

So even if companies offer bonds, they will be unable to raise money if they cannot pay these higher rates.

...
"There's a possibility that the Chinese government will step in to keep the negative impact from spreading," says Hiromichi Tamura, chief strategist at Nomura Securities, "but if these types of repayment delays continue, they could trigger a global stock market downturn."



http://www.ingoldwetrust.ch/january-chinese-gold-demand-all-time-record-247-tons


January Chinese Gold Demand All-Time Record, 247 Tons

Sorry for the delay in my weekly reporting on SGE withdrawals. Due to the Chinese Lunar new year the SGE was closed from 31-01-2014 til 06-02-2014 (dd-mm-yyyy) so I had to wait a bit longer for the publication of the numbers. What they eventually released were the trade numbers from 5 trading days, January 27 – 30, and February 7.

Lets skim through the news first. Bloomberg just reported that Chinese gold usage, according to the China Gold Association, in 2013 was 1176 tons. First of all I don’t understand this new term usage, nor have I ever understood the term consumption regarding gold. If you have some knowledge of gold you know it’s never consumed, gold is immortal and will be recycled till the end of times. Its immortal property is one of the reasons why it’s the most marketable commodity, hence we started using it as money thousands of years ago. The other reasons are it has the right scarcity, its divisible and subsequently small units can be merged/melted into a large unit (a proces which can be repeated to infinity without any loss of material).

Having said that; How can gold demand (I assume that’s what they mean by usage) be 1176 tons, when China mainland net imported 1123 tons just from Hong Kong, domestically mined 428 tons, and additionally net imported gold through other ports? Regular readers of this blog know the number 1176 tons of demand is false, it was in fact 2197 tons as my research has exposed.

Other mainstream news outlets (like the Financial Times and the Telegraph) are slowly starting to scratch their heads about the Chinese gold market. It won’t take years before the Chinese will fail to hide their true insatiable demand for physical gold. Since 2008, after Lehman fell, the China Gold Association (CGA) has changed the way they measure gold demand. In 2007 they reported in the CGA Gold Yearbook:

In 2007 the amount of gold withdrawn from the warehouses of the Shanghai Gold Exchange, total gold demand of that year, was 363.194 tons of gold, an increase of 48 % compared to 2006…
  
In other words, SGE withdrawals equal total Chinese demand (in 2013 SGE withdrawals accounted for 2197 tons), as I have been writing about for months! Starting in 2008 the CGA switched measuring gold demand fromwholesale level (SGE withdrawals) to retail level in order to suppress demand figures. This way they were able to hide investment demand. (for my full analysis read this)

It’s remarkable the CGA publishes these suppressed demand numbers, which are being copied by western media without any second thoughts, while at the same time the CGA has written reports, which are being ignored by western media, that state Chinese demand surpassed 1000 tons (it was 1043 tons to be precise) in 2011. FromThe China Gold Market Report 2011, page 28:

Deregulation of the gold control to open the gold market to the public in 2002 led to the constant rise in China’s gold demand, which unprecedentedly exceeded 1,000 tons in 2011…

The China Gold Market Reports 2007 – 2011 all state Chinese demand equals SGE withdrawals (due to the structure of the Chinese gold market designed in 2002). Since 2011 the CGA ceased publishing the China Gold Market. Chinese demand was such that it became uncomfortable for the Chinese authorities to lay their cards on the table.

To continue to report on suppressed demand numbers the CGA has recently signed a partnership with CPM group. Together they hope to gain more credibility in spreading incomplete data - for as long as it holds.

CGA CPM group partneship

For the CGA this is all strategics. I wonder if CPM Group knows what CGA president, Sun Zhaoxue, writes about the gold market in the Chinese media. Allow me to quote a few snippets from exclusive translations I publishedhere and here:

…the United States intends to suppress gold to ensure the Dollar’s dominance, the fall in the price of gold was premeditated, and a part of the currency war.

…The hottest topic at the moment is oil and goldThe ground war we are seeing around the world is I think war for oil whereas gold is the currency war.

…The US owes Germany so much gold but instead of repaying immediately, it sets a 2020 deadline to return the gold. From this example and process as well as some typical factors, this is a downright currency war to maintain the US Dollar hegemony by defeating all other currencies.

…Gold now suffers from a ‘smokescreen’ designed by the US, which stores 74% of global official gold reserves, to put down other currencies and maintain the US Dollar hegemony. Going to the source, the rise of the US dollar and British pound, and later the euro currency, from a single country currency to a global or regional currency was supported by their huge gold reserves. 

…In the global financial crisis, countries in the world political and economic game, we once again clearly see that gold reserves have an important function for financial stability and are an ‘anchor’ for national economic security.

…We need to establish a more clear national gold strategy, continue to grow gold reserves and progressively become a ‘gold-reserve’ nation that is commensurate with the country’s economic strength.

 …To fundamentally solve these problems, the state will need to elevate gold to an equal strategic resource as oil and energy.

In addition, because individual investment demand is an important component of China’s gold reserve system, we should encourage individual investment demand for gold. Practice shows that gold possession by citizens is an effective supplement to national reserves and is very important to national financial security.


In short, Sun knows the world is in a currency war and in war time China will keep it cards close to its chest. I hope the SGE doesn’t stop publishing withdrawal numbers, it’s the best benchmark we have at this moment.



Shanghai Gold Exchange Withdrawal Numbers January 2014


Withdrawals from the Shanghai Gold Exchange vaults in January 2014 accounted for 247 tons, which is an increase of 43 % compared to January 2013. It’s also more than monthly global mining production and an all-time record! China mainland mines about 35 tons per month which is required to be sold first through the SGE. The other 212 tons (247 – 35) had to supplied by import or recycled gold. My estimate is that scrap couldn’t have been more than 25 tons, so import in January was a staggering 187 tons. China is still draining the vaults in the west BIG TIME!

SGE vs COMEX ™ Jan 2014


Because the last SGE weekly report covers four days in January and one in February, I multiplied the weekly amount by o.2 and subtracted the outcome from the year to date number to get to the January total. This number may be revised when the SGE publishes the January monthly report, but I don’t expect a significant change.

[Update 14-02-2014, January SGE withdrawals were 246, I was one ton of, still a record.] 



Overview Shanghai Gold Exchange data 2014 week 5 and 6



- 40 metric tons withdrawn in 5 trading days of week 5 and 6   (27-01-2014/07-02-2014)
- w/w  - 29.9 %
- 256 metric tons withdrawn year to date

My research indicates that SGE withdrawals equal total Chinese gold demand. For more information read thisthisthis and this.


SGE withdrawals 2014 week 5,6


This is a screen dump from the Chinese SGE trade report; the second number from the left (blue – 本周交割量) is weekly gold withdrawn from the vaults in Kg, the second number from the right (green – 累计交割量) is the total YTD.


SGE withdrawals January 2014


This chart shows SGE gold premiums based on data from the Chinese SGE weekly reports (it’s the difference between the SGE gold price in yuan and the international gold price in yuan).


SGE premiums


Below is a screen dump of the premium section of the SGE weekly report; the first column is the date, the third is the international gold price in yuan, the fourth is the SGE price in yuan, and the last is the difference.


SGE premiums




In Gold We Trust