China’s Monetary War Against Hedonism and Extravagance


The interbank lending rate in China has spiked over the past couple of weeks. “China’s interbank market is basically frozen — much like credit markets froze in the United States right after Lehman failed,” Patrick Chovanec told the New York Times. Is this because China’s economy has overheated and its credit bubble is now bursting? Maybe. But the Financial Times says there’s more to it:

In the midst of the extreme market stress, a statement issued late Wednesday by the central bank raised the possibility that politics are also playing an important role.

Bankers had been calling for the central bank to ease the pressure and a few investors had even predicted that it might cut interest rates. Instead, the People’s Bank of China ordered a thorough implementation of the new “mass line education” campaign launched this week by President Xi Jinping — a campaign that in its propaganda-style and potential scope carries echoes of the Mao era.

The Communist party cadres that run the central bank were told to attack the “four winds” of “formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance”, as demanded by Mr Xi.

….In monetary policy terms, the central bank could certainly be said to be waging war on hedonism and extravagance. The seven-day bond repurchase rate, a key gauge of liquidity in China, surged 270 basis points to more than 10.8 per cent on Thursday — a punitively high rate that could force cash-hungry banks to call in the riskiest of their loans.

Andrew Mellon would be proud! But if this really is what Xi is doing, he’d better be careful. As you may recall, things didn’t turn out the way Mellon hoped.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.