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China holds trillions of dollars worth of citizens’ savings in its banks, and when such monumental amounts appear to be at risk, panic inevitably follows. If Beijing were to go down, the financial sector would crumble as tens of millions of people within the country rushed to move their savings out of China. In the process, the chinas yuan would tank in value and China’s capital controls firewall would collapse.
We caught a glimpse into what this chaos would look like in early 2019, when a few Chinese banks either failed or were nationalized. The most memorable of these was Baoshang Bank, with headquarters in inner Mongolia, which caught the government’s eye because of serious credit risks.
At the same time, China was seeing a spike in bad debts, corporate defaults occurring at record speeds, and the decline of smaller, rural banks as the national economy slowed.
In this video, we are going to give you the lowdown on China’s bank crisis, as well as what this could mean for the world’s second largest economy. We’ll expose the lies told by Beijing and what is really going on behind the scenes.
The situation with Baoshang Bank marked the first state takeover since Chinese lenders started listing on stock markets back in 1998, and the shock reverberated throughout China, lessening domestic confidence in the national banking system. In response, we saw depositor runs at a few Chinese banks and Beijing went into damage control mode through its usual methods of harsh online censorship in order to quell the panic and assure the public that nothing was amiss.
Now China, like the US, is facing a perfect storm that sets the stage for potentially devastating financial trouble. Some of the dangerous trends spotted back in 2018 and 2019 continue to plague the country, and the pandemic has pushed the once burgeoning Chinese economy into a slowdown of historic proportions. Furthermore, critics have taken to social media to spread rumors about the troubles banks are facing.
Bloomberg called the pandemic-induced wave of bank runs “unprecedented,” as police were called to intervene and calm depositors.
In the last couple of weeks, anxious savers have shown up at three primary banks in order to withdraw funds from their accounts. At the same time, talk of cash shortages was circulating around the Chinese web, but these rumors were later declared to be untrue. Local regulators at one bank in Hebei province made public statements assuring that their lenders were sound.
China’s banking system–the world’s largest–boasts a $43 trillion value and upwards of 1 billion account holders. As though the bailouts and Baoshang Bank seizure last year weren’t enough, the current health crisis has put China’s rise as a global superpower and economic titan into serious question.
For a long time, Chinese account holders have looked at banks within the country as being virtually risk free. As Bloomberg recently reported, “deposit-taking has provided a stable and low-cost funding base for China’s financial market” for decades. This has been instrumental in the accelerated growth of their national economy, which is now the second largest in the world. In fact, Chinese households represent a total of 90 trillion yuan ($13 trillion) of bank deposits, a number unmatched across the globe.
But if anxiety and bank runs panic continues to spread, that could all change, bringing immediate liquidity risk to the institutions.
The rumors spreading online are causing quite a stir, but in reality, they are only shedding light on issues that many have recognized for years. Despite the flawless front it presents, China’s banking system is full of flaws and false information.
For Beijing, it is paramount that they maintain the illusion and that bank runs never get out of control. To combat an increasingly unstable system, China has been attempting to burst another stock market bubble, which would theoretically direct funds away from bank savings accounts and towards capital markets. Politically, this is a much safer option, especially as the future security of banks is called into question. Even with two bleak choices on the table–a stock bubble-bust cycle and a loss of trust in banks–China would go with the former every time. Be Ready for a horrible Chinese yuan crash or bank collapse.
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