World asleep as China tightens deflationary vice

Chinese men smoke while walking beneath lanterns as Beijing prepares for the traditional Lantern Festival
China’s Xi Jinping has cast the die. After weighing up the unappetising choice before him for a year, he has picked the lesser of two poisons. The balance of evidence is that most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong aims to prick China’s $24 trillion credit bubble early in his 10-year term, rather than putting off the day of reckoning for yet another cycle. This may be well-advised for China, but the rest of the world seems remarkably nonchalant over the implications. Brazil, Russia, South Africa, and the commodity bloc are already in the cross-hairs. “China is getting serious about deleveraging,” says Patrick Legland and Wei Yao from Societe Generale. “It is difficult to gently deflate a bubble. There is a very real possibility that this slow deflation may get out of control and lead to a hard landing.” Zhang Yichen from CITIC Capital said the denouement will be a ratchet effect since China has capital controls and banks are an arm of the state, but that does not make it benign. “They are trying to deleverage without blowing the whole thing up. The US couldn’t contain Lehman contagion, but in China all contracts can be renegotiated, so it is very hard to have a domino effect. We’ll see a slow deflating of the bubble ,” he said. More
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