Three headers on China in Bloomberg Asia Opening Page on Internet:
Shall leave it to the dear readers to figure out if they all add up and hang together nicely.
But, you must take the Chris Balding piece on Bloomberg seriously. He is putting numbers behind the import overpayment as a proxy for capital outflows. He correctly questions the sanguine BIS statement that China capital outflows in 3Q2015 were benign in nature because companies were reducing their offshore liabilities. Some of his observations bear repetition:
The BIS study, which estimates that such repayments accounted for nearly a quarter of the $163 billion of non-reserve outflows in the third quarter of 2015, focuses on a very narrow slice of time. Foreign debt obligations grew rapidly in late 2014 and the first half of 2015, then shrunk dramatically in the third quarter.
Chinese customs officials reported $1.68 trillion in imports last year. Banks, on the other hand, claimed to have paid $2.2 trillion for those same imports. While the official balance-of-payments records a current account surplus of $331 billion in 2015, banks’ payments and receipts show a $122 billion deficit.
The timing is also telling. The discrepancy began to grow rapidly in 2012, just as growth peaked and concerns began to rise among affluent Chinese about the economy and a political transition. Since then, fake import payments have grown from $140 billion to $524 billion in 2015.
He has a more detailed blog post on this matter and a companion set of slides. I am not sure one can understand the slides without him explaining them to us patiently. Alternatively, one reads the blog post together with the slides and then one can make some sense of the slides.