National Day, Shadow Banking, and Pork Prices

The start of a new month brings with it some new ideas.  Here’s what I’m thinking about:

The 70th Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the people’s republic of China.  It’s interesting to note that western reporting of Hong Kong protests is overshadowing reporting of the National Day festivities underway in Beijing.

This has been an event the Chinese leadership has been focused on for quite some time.  Many China analysts speculated that the lead up to this significant event influenced top leadership’s decision making, particularly concerning the repeal of the profoundly unpopular Hong Kong extradition bill.

 

Shadow Banking in China

Over the past several weeks, I have focused my attention on domestic capital flows in Mainland China.  Nearly all lines of inquiry into the subject refer to the importance of shadow banking activity for China’s overall economy.

Andrew Collier, the author of “Shadow Banking and the Rise of Capitalism in China” and Managing Director of Orient Capital Research, presents four key metrics economists have used to understand the risks of China’s shadow banking sector.  Enumerated and summarized below are these metrics:

  • The private sector credit-to-GDP ratio
  • The growth of real credit per capita
  • The real credit growth gap
  • The debt service ratio

Most compelling is Mr. Collier’s assertion that “none of these measures of credit suggest China is in good shape.”

 

Pork Prices in China

Unrelated to the story surrounding the senior UBS economist and his controversial remarks in June, over the past few weeks pork prices in China have been the Wholesale pork prices in China have nearly doubled since the end of last year due to a proliferation of African swine flu.

 

CNPORKWH Index (China Agricultur 2019-09-03 08-33-50_cropped_2
China wholesale pork spot price (RMB/kg) Source: Bloomberg

 

Why does this matter?

Unstable commodity prices breed unstable societies. Especially when you consider that China is the largest consumer of pork in the world.  Officials in all levels of government are openly acknowledging a slowing of China’s economy for reasons distinct to consumer commodity prices.  If we start to see too downward economic forces converging then, this could lead to Hong Kong-style unrest in Mainland cities.  Food for thought.

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