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Chinese Banks Begin To Raise Mortgage Rates

Raising rates on reverse repos, hiking the cost it charges on its Medium-Term Loan Facility and Standing Lending Facility, five consecutive day without a reverse repo liquidity injection (or rather a CNY715 billion liquidity drain), and now in the latest indication of overall tightening of monetary conditions, China has started to hike mortgage rates. According to press reports, some bank branches in Beijing, Guangzhou and Chongqing have raised mortgage rates for first-home buyers recently. The China Securities Journal confirms as much, reporting that China's banks in some big cities have started to lower discounts on lending rates for fist-time home buyers, joining recent steps to curb financial risks stemming loose credit conditions.

Following up on the Chinese press report, Reuters notes that since the start of 2017, banks in Beijing have started discounting mortgage rates as much as 10 percent off the official benchmark rate, reducing from as much as 15 percent previously, CSJ said on its website. The current one-year benchmark lending rate set by the People's Bank of China is at 4.35 percent, the lending rate for loans up to five years is at 4.75 percent and loans longer than 5 years is at 4.9 percent. Few lenders in Beijing and Shanghai still offer mortgage rate discounts more than 10 percent off the benchmark, the Chinese paper said.

"There are indications that the financial environment for the property market will no longer be loose in 2017," it said.

In the southern city of Guangzhou, for example, the Postal Savings Bank, Industrial Bank and Rural Commercial Bank have also adjusted discounts on mortgage rates to as much as 10% off the benchmark rate from as much as 15%, the paper said.

Confirming the tightening move, banks in Guangzhou have been told by regulators to tighten screws on mortgage lending in light of a ramp up in new loans in January, the paper said.

The crackdown on mortgage lending comes as Chinese banks may have doled out 2.3 trillion yuan ($334.88 billion) in new loans in January, the second highest monthly tally ever and building off last year's record lending, according to a Reuters poll. If confirmed, it will suggest that while the PBOC is taking away liquidity with one hand, it is generously adding it with the other.  Alternatively, it could simply be a calendar effect as Chinese banks usually "front load" loans at the start of year in order to maintain their market shares.

The central bank hopes higher funding costs could help contain credit growth amid fears of asset bubbles and financial risks, analysts say.

As reported last month, the Chinese housing market finally hit an inflection point in December when it recorded the first slowdown in home price growth after 19 consecutive months of constant acceleration

However, as the chart above shows, if Beijing is indeed intent on normalizing the local housing bubble, there is a long way down from here. The upcoming landing (whether soft or hard) in the housing market as the third consecutive bubble in under a decade pops, is why Deutsche Bank earlier speculated that the global economy is about to suffer a downward inflection point, as the global growth dynamo, China, suddenly goes into reverse.