Business / Economy

Economists warn against lending to less-developed provinces

By ZHENG YANGPENG (China Daily) Updated: 2015-01-07 11:22

Bloomberg economists are warning banks and finance organizations against lending to customers from less-developed provinces in China as they carry higher risks of debt default.

Seeking to "single out the slow antelopes from the faster ones", Fielding Chen and Tom Orlik said their research had found that northeastern Liaoning, southwestern Yunnan and northwestern Gansu provinces ranked the top three in default risk.

To measure the relative risks, the two economists cited a number of indicators, including "cyclical" measures such as GDP growth, producer price indexes, local fiscal revenue growth, home prices, and "structural" measures such as demographic change, reliance on land sale revenue, and debt to GDP ratios.

They concluded that Liaoning's debt is more dangerous as slow GDP expansion and zero growth in population have put a cap on potential growth and housing demand.

Slow growing, highly leveraged Yunnan province ranked second-riskiest while Gansu was third, with its factory-gate deflation, crumbling real estate and high debt, the report said.

The Central regions including Henan, Hubei and Hunan-with low leverage and robust growth-scored highly.

Some developed coastal provinces also look strong, including Guangdong, which boasts strong fiscal revenue, low debt, and relatively balanced growth with a low share of investment compared with GDP.

The Bloomberg findings come at a time when overall growth in China has slowed and town halls are backing away from blanket no-default guarantees.

Local governments were required to submit information on their total liabilities to the Finance Ministry before Monday, and analysts say this means some local government financing vehicles, or LGFVs, will lose government support after the ministry starts reviewing the regional submissions.

Late last month the regional authorities in Shandong became the first to declare they would not bail out defaulting cities or counties in the province.

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