Late last month in “The Biggest Threat To Chinese Stocks: Shadow Lending Crackdown“, we suggested that the pressure on Chinese equities – which at that point had only begun to build – was at least partially attributable to an unwind in the country’s CNY1 trillion backdoor margin lending edifice.
As we explained, brokerages were only allowed to facilitate margin trading for investors whose account balances totaled at least CNY500K, and even then, traders could only lever up 2X. Brokerages naturally looked for ways to skirt the rules, leading to the development of multiple off-the-books vehicles and creating a situation wherein the official headline figure for margin lending (around CNY2.2 trillion at the time) woefully underrepresented the actual amount of leverage behind China’s world-beating equity rally.
Put simply, precisely measuring the amount of shadow financing that helped China’s legions of newly-minted retail day traders make leveraged bets on the SHCOMP and Shenzhen is virtually impossible, as is determining how much of that leverage has been unwound and how much remains or has been restored thanks to Beijing’s explicit efforts to reignite the margin madness by pumping PBoC cash into CSF.
For our part, we’ve suggested that regardless of what the actual figure is, the important point is that the unwind has probably just begun. In short: it seems unlikely that all of the leverage has been squeezed out of China’s exceedingly intricate shadow financing system.
As it turns out, BofAML agrees and is out with a valiant attempt to not only identify each shadow lending channel, but to quantify just how much leverage is built into the Chinese market.
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We estimate that margin outstanding, only from the seven channels that we can estimate reasonably, easily exceeds Rmb3.7tr.Assuming an average 1x leverage, it means that at least Rmb7.5tr market positions are being