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More focus on risk prevention as China signals monetary policy shift

Xinhua | Updated: 2016-12-26 15:58

BEIJING - As China adds "neutral" to its monetary policy description for next year, there will be more emphasis on de-leveraging, curbing asset bubbles and preventing risks, Economic Information Daily reported Monday.

The report predicted that China's M2, a broad measure of money supply that covers cash in circulation and all deposits, would increase by 12 percent next year.

During the Central Economic Work Conference this month, China decided to keep monetary policy "prudent and neutral" and ensure stable liquidity in 2017. There will be more emphasis on preventing and controlling financial risks, especially asset bubbles.

The word "neutral" reflects an adjustment in monetary policy, said Li Yang, head of the National Institute for Finance and Development, a government think tank.

While stability is still important, asset bubbles and other risks are seen as growing and the government must protect against them, Li said.

Risk control and prevention means better control of money supply, said Sheng Songcheng, a central bank advisor. He agreed that M2 is unlikely to increase by more than 12 percent next year.

M2 had risen 11.4 percent year-on-year to 153 trillion yuan at the end of November, according to the central bank.

Turning monetary policy to "neutral" does not mean a drastic tightening of control. Liu Ligang, chief China economist of Citic Group, expects the central bank to inject liquidity in a more targeted manner, just as it supported real economy and infrastructure investment under the Belt and Road Initiative by providing liquidity to policy banks.

While maintaining neutrality, if there is a notable capital outflow, the central bank may yet cut reserve requirement ratios, said Liu.

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