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Fed taper comes at 'delicate moment' for China

Updated: 2013-12-20 07:37
By Amy He in New York and Zheng Yangpeng in Beijing ( China Daily)

The United States Federal Reserve Board's announcement that it will scale back its bond-buying program could crimp liquidity in China at a delicate moment, analysts warned.

China's interbank lending rate is at its highest since June, when the central bank pushed up rates to discourage borrowing, a move engineered partially to prevent further shadow banking activity, said Patrick Chovanec, managing director of Silvercrest Asset Management Group and former economics professor at Tsinghua University.

"Part of the liquidity that's been provided has been US dollar borrowing, both licit and illicit," Chovanec told China Daily on Wednesday after the Fed's announcement.

Fed taper comes at 'delicate moment' for China

An employee counts yuan bills at a bank in Xuchang, Henan province. The value of the yuan retreated on Thursday, along with other emerging market currencies. Provided to China Daily

"Dollars flowing into China add to the credit supply, and that has been based on the assumption that quantitative easing would continue."

The Fed's pullback from monthly bond purchases, which were aimed at stimulating US economic growth, could have implications for interest rates and currencies around the world.

Chovanec said that although China has relatively lower exposure to macroeconomic risks from the Fed's action, the move could "undercut liquidity at a delicate moment".

The Fed acted after months of speculation that it would begin slowing its controversial stimulus to the economy, known as quantitative easing. Citing progress in lowering the US unemployment rate and in improving economic conditions, the agency said it will "modestly" scale back its pace of purchases by $10 billion now.

It also said it will buy $75 billion worth of Treasury and mortgage-backed bonds each month, starting in January. The move signaled the beginning of an end to five years of unprecedented US government intervention in financial markets.

Tan Xiaosu, an international finance professor at the Central University of Finance and Economics, said that although the market had already factored in some of the impact before the Fed's announcement, there will still be a reaction when tapering actually occurs, including foreign capital outflows and yuan depreciation.

The value of the yuan retreated on Thursday, along with other emerging market currencies, but analysts said that the Chinese currency's decline will be limited as its increasing international usage means demand is still there.

Yukon Huang, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said tighter liquidity might be a good thing, as it sends a warning to small banks in China about the risks of excessive reliance on the interbank market.


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