President Jinping backs stronger risk reduction role for China central bank
Beijing, China - Chinese President Xi Jinping said the central bank will play a stronger role in defending against risks, calling for more work on safeguarding the financial system and modernising its regulatory framework.
China will set up a financial stability development committee under the State Council, Jinping said at a twice-a-decade National Financial Work Conference held from Friday to Saturday, state media reported without defining the relationship with the People’s Bank of China (PBOC). Financial security is part of national security, and finance should better serve the real economy, Jinping said.
In a speech, Jinping said prudent monetary policy, a goal announced in December, should be firmly implemented and the PBOC should take a stronger macro-prudential policy role. He also called for greater yuan exchange-rate reform, an improved foreign-exchange market system, and steady progress in yuan internationalisation, according to state media reports.
President Jinping is ramping up efforts to ensure stability ahead of a twice-a-decade leadership transition this fall at the 19th Communist Party Congress. He has elevated curbing risk in the US$40tn financial industry to a new level with ‘strategic importance’ amid increasingly inter- twined business between China’s banks, brokerages, asset managers and insurers.
Establishing the committee is noteworthy, though the meeting didn’t produce much surprise, according to Ming Ming, a former PBOC monetary policy official who’s now head of fixed-income research at Citic Securities Co in Beijing. The name signifies that the panel should be a ministry-level entity directly under the State Council that’s mandated to oversee overall financial coordination, he wrote in a report on Sunday.
China will proactively prevent and resolve systemic financial risks, and step up efforts to reduce leverage in the economy, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing Jinping. He also called for greater accountability for regulators, saying it’s a ‘dereliction of duty’ if they fail to spot and dispose of risks in a timely manner, and stressed that coordination of financial regulation should be improved, and weak links in supervision strengthened.
“The heavy emphasis on risk prevention will put a damper on much-needed reform in the financial market,” such as developing derivatives markets, said Victor Shih, a professor at the University of California in San Diego who studies China’s politics and finance. “With the wording on holding regulators for any signs of instability, they will definitely err on the side of caution. But if regulations are too stifling, financial talent may leave the country.”
Premier Li Keqiang also spoke at the meeting, calling for moderate credit growth and keeping liquidity ‘ basically stable’, according to state television. He backed ‘professional, consolidated, penetrating’ regulation of all financial businesses to reduce risks.
More-centralised regulatory powers are welcome, though the plan suggests China wants financial markets to be purely mechanisms for national development, not speculation, according to Michael Every, senior Asia Pacific strategist at Rabobank in Hong Kong.
“It’s worrying that yet another area of the economy is now considered national security,” Every said. “That sends a strong message we can never have another crash, and that means we can’t have volatility, and that means no real markets, or perhaps no true role for foreign players as price setters.”
PBOC last year began measuring risk using what it calls a macro prudential assessment system built on examining banks’ capital-adequacy ratios - a monitoring authority once on the China Banking Regulatory Commission’s turf.
Chinese President Xi Jinping