China central bank will back growth, watch debt risks, governor says - Metro US

China central bank will back growth, watch debt risks, governor says

Headquarters of the PBOC, the central bank, is pictured in Beijing

(Reuters) – China’s monetary policy will continue to support economic growth and the central bank will watch debt and non-performing loan risks, central bank Governor Yi Gang said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum, Yi said China’s macro policies will focus on maximising employment, which will help boost consumption, and China’s exports will remain pretty good this year.

“Monetary policy will continue to prop up the economy, but at the same time we will watch for the risks. We will keep a delicate balance between supporting economic recovery, at the same time preventing risk,” Yi said.

“One risk is the macro leverage ratio of China increased somewhat last year, the second risk is non-performing loans that are growing, and we also look at external risks, which is look at the capital flow situation.”

At a key agenda-setting meeting in December, Chinese leaders pledged to maintain proactive fiscal policy and make monetary policy flexible and targeted.

The central bank has rolled out a raft of measures, including cuts in interest rates and reserve ratios since early-2020 to support the virus-hit economy, but it has shifted to a steadier stance in recent months as the recovery solidified.

“We will ensure our policies are consistent and stable, and we will not exit from supporting policy prematurely,” Yi said.

China is likely to cool credit growth and scale back fiscal stimulus this year to help stabilise debt levels, but policymakers are likely to tread cautiously to avoid derailing the recovery, policy insiders said.

China’s economy grew 2.3% in 2020, according to official data this week, making it likely the only major economy that expanded last year.

But retail sales fell 3.9% over the full year, marking the first contraction since 1968, and final consumption dragged on growth for the first time in at least four decades, official data showed.

(Reporting by Lusha Zhang and Kevin Yao, editing by Larry King)

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