Not Concerned About China’s Financial Crisis? You Should Be

In February, IVN reported on a mostly ignored study claiming that the world, especially China, was at risk of default (and possible economic meltdown) because of skyrocketing debt burdens.

On Tuesday, almost all media outlets worldwide picked up on the first Chinese-state owned business allowed to default.

Struggling in a cooling economy, Baoding Tianwei Baobian Electric missed its $13.8 million interest payment due on April 21 for bonds traded within China. Even though it is a state-owned company, Beijing let them default.

On Monday, Kaisa Group Holdings Ltd. became the first Chinese developer to default on American-held dollar-denominated bonds after missing an interest payment of $16.1 million.

More and more defaults are happening, and there is significant fear that this is the beginning of a massive implosion of the Chinese credit markets.

For a country that we generally see as a debt-buying nation, this is shocking to most.

State-backed companies selling bonds make up 91 percent of the traded domestic market in China. Allowing this to fail may shake the entire market; especially, if it’s allowed to continue.

Even with overwhelming evidence of an impending crash, very few large domestic media outlets reported on this story — Forbes and Market Watch took it up earlier in the year (and everyone jumped on the bandwagon on Tuesday). However, it has mostly been the smaller news outlets who have noticed the writing on the wall.

Most reports neglect to really look at the study predicting this crash. We should, because it lays out the most vulnerable sectors in the Chinese market, and more importantly how some of this leveraging will affect world markets, including the United States.

China is far more leveraged than America was prior to the Great Recession — especially in the real estate markets. Shadow banking, the practice of conducting financial transactions outside of normal banking channels, has grown by over 36 percent per year, and highlights both the instability and the overburdening debt in the market.

Probably the biggest risk to America is a widespread defaulting of state-owned companies, forcing the Chinese government to dump U.S. Treasury securities to create liquid capital to prop up these companies and the bond markets.

If this happens, the cost of credit to the U.S. government could increase significantly from the instability in our own ability to sell debt.

America is starting to come out of the effects of the Great Recession, but another major financial meltdown would be hard, if not impossible, to bail out.

A global economic meltdown may be on its way, and we should probably review the available data and studies to determine how to best protect American interests from the crises happening abroad.