China heading for financial crisis, IMF warns

CHINA could be heading for a financial crisis due to the level of financial and corporate debt, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned.

Markus Rodlauer, deputy director of the IMF's Asia-Pacific department, said the level of debt in the Chinese economy was on an "unsustainable path", adding that a financial problem in China would have "very serious repercussions" for the global economy.

Mr Rodlauer told The Telegraph: "The level of financial and corporate debt and the complexity of the financial system and rapid growth in shadow banking is on an unsustainable path.

"While still manageable in its size given the size of the public assets under public control, the trend is dangerous".

"The longer it lasts ... the more serious the disturbance and the disruption might be. [The reaction could range] from a mild growth slowdown, to a sharp slowdown in growth to potentially a financial crisis."

Mr Rolauer, who has served as the IMF's China's mission chief for five years, added that an economic crisis in China would have serious implications for the rest of the world.

He said: "There is no doubt that a calamity or a problem in China would have very serious repercussions for the global economy, both real and financial."

The IMF's latest World Economic Outlook revealed debt in China was rising at a "dangerous pace", while its Financial Stability Report showed small Chinese banks were heavily exposed to shadow credit as a share of capital buffers, with exposure reaching nearly 600pc at some banks.

Growth investment by private firms in China fell to a new record low in the first half of this year and fixed asset investment growth in the first half slowed to 9 per cent, the weakest since March 2000.

Last month a Harvard professor said China was the biggest threat to the global economy, and several international bodies have expressed concern about the slowdown in the Chinese economy in recent months.

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