Schroders Quickview: China cuts rates, but more is needed

Craig Botham

Craig Botham

Senior Emerging Markets Economist

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Lending and deposit rates cut

In a move that should prove helpful at the margin, the People’s Bank of China cut both the lending and deposit rates by 25 basis points, to 5.1% and 2.25% respectively.

At the same time the ceiling for the deposit rate was raised to 1.5 times, from 1.3 times previously; banks are able to offer a slightly higher deposit rate than previously, if they wish.

China banks struggling to recoup costs

So far, rate cuts in China have depressed net interest margins at banks, which felt unable to lower deposit rates but were compelled to reduce the rate on existing lending.

As a consequence, the rate on new lending, important for refinancing costs, stayed higher as banks attempted to recoup their diminished margins.

This time, however, listed banks have been reducing their deposit rates as well as their lending rates, suggesting not only less pressure on net interest margins but also a greater marginal impact on debt costs for corporates and households.

Is GDP slowing?

The People’s Bank of China's quarterly report showed that despite the easing measures introduced effective rates in China remain elevated, and the low level of inflation means real effective rates are higher at present than their 2014 average.

Given the apparent shift to more aggressive easing, we now expect an accelerated pace of monetary easing for the rest of 2015, in effect frontloading the stimulus we had expected for 2016.

One implication might be that April’s data is weaker than expected, certainly the trade and PMI data so far would suggest as much. We think GDP growth is likely to slow further in Q2.