Business / Markets

PBOC to keep policy stance next year: Economists

( Updated: 2012-11-30 14:58

With the 18th CPC National Congress - China's once in a decade leadership transition - concluding earlier this month, the guessing game has started about the future policy direction of the central bank at the helm of the world's second-largest economy. For next year, economists are expecting there won't be much change at all.

Market players and watchers are eagerly waiting for some clues. The 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China took place in November, with Xi Jinping named general secretary of the CPC Central Committee.

With all these changes, the big question is: Will we see major policy interventions in money markets in 2013, or will policymakers opt for a status quo?

"After quite an eventful year 2012, policymakers at the People's Bank of China are expected to refrain from major policy action in these freezing months. But this might change in the second half of the year, with easing measures such as triple R or interest rate cuts likely," said Martina Fuchs, CCTV reporter.

Helen Qiao, Chief Economist for Greater China at Morgan Stanley, thinks the start of the new year will be quiet.

"In the near future, we expect a lot of continuity in terms of fiscal and monetary policy stance. Policymakers are still comfortable with their policy tightness. When we look at the labor market employment this still remains relatively robust, despite that growth has decelerated significantly this year, there are less and less incentives for policymakers to introduce more stimulus in the future. We expect them to maintain their policy stance."

Beijing has taken several steps to support growth in 2012.

In June and July, the PBOC cut interest rates, and lowered required reserve ratios three times since late 2011 to free an estimated 1.2 trillion yuan ($190 billion) for lending as part of a year-long program of pro-growth policy fine-tuning.

It also liberalized the interest rate environment with its June and July cuts to give commercial banks more room to set both lending and deposit rates competitively.

"In the short-term, leaders will not implement any drastic changes. General policy direction will still be around the 12th 5-year plan. I would expect to see a tightening situation in the second half of the year when both inflation and economic growth will pick up again. But looking further to the medium-to long-term, I would expect that they will gradually liberalize the interest rate system as well," said Liu Qian, deputy director of China Forecasting Service, EIU.

The central bank's governor Zhou Xiaochuan said in November inflation is the main long-term risk for China as the economy makes a transition from a planned economy to a market-based one and deeper financial reforms will be needed to complete the move.

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