Call it the new China Syndrome: Although Asia’s biggest economy is slowing down markedly, credit continues to surge. Dead-end projects and dying industries are sucking up an ever-larger portion of new credit, while more productive borrowers are starved for funds.
Nowhere is this more evident than in China’s shadow banking sector, the non-bank financiers that have pumped credit into the economy at a spectacular rate. Trust companies – firms that sell investment products to Chinese savers and use the proceeds to make loans or buy other types of assets – have posted the fastest growth.
A Reuters examination of proprietary data shows that as little as half of trust loans issued in 2012 were used to finance current economic activity, such as a new investment project or increased production at an existing factory.
The other half may have been used for refinancing old debt that funded past projects but is…
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