The interbank market in China experienced remarkable squeezes in liquidity in 2013. In particular, the overnight Shanghai Interbank Offered Rate reached a historical high in June. Banks were unprepared, facing the occurrence of various liquidity demands simultaneously. Effects of the liquidity squeeze spread across markets, and concerns were expressed about the health of the banking sector in the world’s second largest economy. Yet the central bank of China maintained an unswerving view that the tightness of liquidity was only structural, and could be overcome by the commercial banks themselves. While it may be too early to judge whether the central bank was correct, or whether there is systematic liquidity risk in the banking sector, markets received a clear signal from the People’s Bank of China. The central bank stopped acting as a ‘perpetual put option’ for commercial banks and refused to take responsibility to satisfy liquidity needs in the interbank market. Its intention is clear; that is, to adjust monetary policy and support economic reform in China. The new Chinese government seems determined to steer a new course away from the previous growth episode. Its resolution has been published and actions have been taken. Among them, the central bank’s changes to monetary policy have received responses from the markets, and the People’s Bank of China is now in the vanguard of a battle to squeeze liquidity. It is difficult to predict what further actions the government will take. However, it should be aware that the driving force of economic reform in China comes from structural change and productivity improvement. Without follow-up policies, complication in the financial system could undermine the central bank’s effort and international capital flows may quickly substitute the opening position of the central bank in the interbank market. More wisdom is required if China is to win the battle for deleveraging and structural reform.
Nan Shi, Xin Sun and Fan Zhang would like to thank Dr. Zhichao Zhang in Durham University Business School for his generous comments on this chapter.
Shi, N., Sun, X. and Zhang, F. (2014), "Monetary Policy and Bank Liquidity in China", Risk Management Post Financial Crisis: A Period of Monetary Easing (Contemporary Studies in Economic and Financial Analysis, Vol. 96), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 255-276. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1569-375920140000096010Download as .RIS
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