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China Center Chart Dive: Early signs of progress in deleveraging, but the road is long
  • Authors:

    Yuan Gao

  • Publication Date:
    December 2017

Deleveraging has long been one of China’s stated policy goals, and it was an important plank of the “supply side structural reform” program first proposed in December 2015. Yet until the first half of 2017, debt growth still outpaced nominal GDP growth, meaning that aggregate debt levels continued to rise despite fierce rhetoric from Communist Party leaders that the problem was being tackled. We estimate that China’s total debt-to-GDP ratio increased from 252 percent in 2015 to 259 percent in 2016. If GDP and debt continue growing at the same rate as in the first half of the year, this ratio will reach 262 percent by the end of 2017. Yet it’s too early to conclude that policy efforts to deleverage have failed, for the aggregate ratio here doesn’t tell the entire story. 

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