Moody’s Cuts China Credit Outlook to Negative
December 6, 2023 | by b1og.net
Moody’s has cut China’s credit outlook to negative due to concerns over the country’s slowing economic growth and a crisis in its property sector. This marks the first downgrade for China since 2017. The agency cites risks from financing troubles of local and regional governments, as well as state-owned enterprises. The property crisis, brought on by a crackdown on excessive borrowing in 2020, has resulted in defaults by numerous property developers, impacting local government finances and posing risks to lenders. Moody’s also highlights the need for government intervention, which poses broader downside risks to China’s fiscal, economic, and institutional strength. Despite these challenges, China’s Ministry of Finance remains optimistic about the country’s macroeconomic recovery.
Moody’s Cuts China Credit Outlook to Negative
Moody’s, the credit rating agency, recently downgraded its outlook for Chinese sovereign bonds to negative. This decision was made in light of the risks posed by China’s slowing economy and the crisis in its property sector. It is worth noting that this is the first downgrade for China since 2017. Moody’s expressed concerns about the financing troubles faced by local and regional governments, as well as state-owned enterprises. Additionally, the agency highlighted the negative impact of defaults by property developers, which have not only affected local government finances but also posed a threat to some lenders. Unsurprisingly, these issues have had a significant drag on China’s overall economy. The need for government intervention to support banks and local governments presents broad downside risks to China’s fiscal, economic, and institutional strength. Moody’s also pointed out the increased risks associated with lower medium-term economic growth. The agency expects China’s economy to grow at a 4% annual pace in 2024 and 2025, with a further decline to an average of 3.8% for the rest of the decade.
Reasons for Moody’s Downgrade
The downgrade by Moody’s is primarily a result of the slowing economy and the property crisis in China. China’s economy had already been experiencing a slowdown even before the crackdown on excessive borrowing in 2020. The resulting defaults by property developers have had far-reaching consequences, impacting local and regional governments as well as state-owned enterprises. These issues have led to financial difficulties for the affected entities and have contributed to the overall economic slowdown in the country.
Impact on Local and Regional Governments and State-Owned Enterprises
The downgrade by Moody’s has significant implications for local and regional governments in China, as well as state-owned enterprises. The financing troubles faced by these entities have worsened as a result of the property crisis and the overall economic slowdown. For local and regional governments, the difficulties arising from defaulting property developers have affected their finances, making it challenging to meet their obligations. State-owned enterprises, on the other hand, have also felt the impact, with the economic slowdown affecting their profitability and overall financial health.
Consequences for the Property Sector
The property sector in China has been heavily affected by the downgrade. The crisis in the sector, characterized by defaults by property developers, has led to a decline in investor confidence and a decrease in real estate investment. This slowdown in the property sector has had a ripple effect on the overall economy, as it is a significant driver of economic growth in China. The consequences of the property crisis have been felt by both local governments, which rely on land sales for revenue, and lenders, who face the risk of loan defaults from developers.
Effects on Local Government Finances and Lenders
The downgrade by Moody’s has had a direct impact on the finances of local governments and lenders in China. With the slowdown in the property sector and the resulting defaults by developers, local government revenues have taken a hit. Many local governments heavily rely on land sales for revenue, and the decline in real estate investment has affected their ability to generate funds. As for lenders, the risk of loan defaults by property developers poses a significant threat. This situation not only affects their profitability but could also lead to a wider financial crisis if not appropriately managed.
Government Intervention to Support Banks and Local Governments
To counter the negative effects of the downgrade and the property crisis, the Chinese government has taken measures to support banks and local governments. These interventions aim to mitigate the risks posed to the financial sector and stabilize the economy. The government has implemented policies such as providing financial support to banks and injecting liquidity into the market. These measures are crucial in preventing a more severe economic downturn and ensuring the stability of the financial system.
Broad Downside Risks to China’s Fiscal, Economic, and Institutional Strength
Moody’s downgrade highlights the broad downside risks to China’s fiscal, economic, and institutional strength. The slowdown in the economy, coupled with the challenges faced by the property sector, poses significant threats to China’s overall financial stability. These risks include the potential for further defaults by property developers, which could have a cascading effect on local governments and lenders. The downgrade serves as a warning sign for the Chinese government to address these risks and implement measures to strengthen the country’s fiscal and economic foundations.
Increased Risks Related to Lower Medium-Term Economic Growth
One of the primary concerns outlined by Moody’s in their downgrade is the increased risks associated with lower medium-term economic growth in China. The agency projects a slowdown in economic growth, with an expected 4% annual pace in 2024 and 2025, followed by a further decline to an average of 3.8% for the rest of the decade. Moody’s attributes these risks to factors such as weaker demographics, as the country ages. These projections highlight the need for China to address structural issues and pursue reforms to sustain stronger economic growth in the future.
China’s Ministry of Finance’s Response
The Ministry of Finance in China expressed disappointment with Moody’s decision to downgrade the outlook for Chinese sovereign bonds. The ministry emphasized China’s steady recovery and progress in the face of a complex and challenging international landscape. Despite the difficulties, the ministry remains optimistic about China’s macroeconomy and its ability to rebound from the current challenges. It believes that China still possesses significant development resilience and potential, making it an important engine for global economic growth.
Stock Market Reaction in China
The downgrade by Moody’s had an immediate impact on the stock market in China. Shares retreated, with the Hang Seng dropping 1.9% and the Shanghai Composite index down 1.7%. This decline reflects investor concerns about the challenges faced by China’s economy and the property sector in particular. The stock market reaction highlights the need for the Chinese government to address these issues and restore investor confidence in order to stimulate economic growth.
Moody’s Affirmation of China’s Long-Term Issuer Ratings
Despite downgrading the outlook for Chinese sovereign bonds, Moody’s affirmed China’s A1 long-term local and foreign-currency issuer ratings. This affirmation acknowledges China’s strong creditworthiness and its ability to meet its financial obligations. While the outlook has been downgraded due to current challenges, China’s long-term credit ratings remain stable. This provides some reassurance to investors and indicates that Moody’s still considers China to be a reliable borrower.
Expected Future Growth of China’s Economy
Looking ahead, Moody’s projects a moderate growth trajectory for China’s economy. The agency expects the economy to grow at a 4% annual pace in 2024 and 2025, followed by a gradual decline to an average of 3.8% for the rest of the decade. The projections are based on factors such as weaker demographics and other structural issues. To sustain stronger growth, China will need to implement substantial and coordinated reforms that promote consumer spending and higher value-added manufacturing. These reforms are crucial for offsetting the weaker property sector and ensuring a more sustainable and resilient economy.
Necessary Reforms to Offset Weaker Property Sector
To counter the negative impact of the weaker property sector, China needs to undertake significant reforms. These reforms should focus on promoting consumer spending and higher value-added manufacturing. By fostering a shift towards a more consumption-driven economy and encouraging innovation and productivity, China can offset the challenges posed by the property crisis. It is essential for the Chinese government to implement these reforms promptly and effectively to ensure a more balanced and resilient economic growth model.
China’s Resilience and Potential for Global Economic Growth
Despite the challenges outlined by Moody’s, China still possesses significant resilience and potential for global economic growth. The Ministry of Finance in China emphasized the country’s development resilience and its importance as an engine for global economic growth. China’s large population, rising middle class, and continuous advancements in technology and innovation provide a solid foundation for its resilience. While the current challenges in the economy and the property sector are significant, China’s long-term potential remains intact, and it will continue to play a crucial role in driving global economic growth.
In conclusion, Moody’s downgrade of China’s credit outlook to negative reflects the risks posed by a slowing economy and the property crisis. This downgrade has significant implications for local and regional governments, state-owned enterprises, and lenders in China. However, the Chinese government has taken steps to support banks and local governments and is implementing necessary reforms to offset the weaker property sector. While there are broad downside risks to China’s fiscal, economic, and institutional strength, the country still possesses resilience and potential for future global economic growth. By addressing these challenges and implementing appropriate reforms, China can position itself for sustained growth and maintain its position as a key player in the global economy.