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China's overseas lending

Author

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  • Horn, Sebastian
  • Reinhart, Carmen M.
  • Trebesch, Christoph

Abstract

Compared with China's dominance in world trade, its expanding role in global finance is poorly documented and understood. Over the past decades, China has exported record amounts of capital to the rest of the world. Many of these financial flows are not reported to the IMF, the BIS or the World Bank. "Hidden debts" to China are especially significant for about three dozen developing countries, and distort the risk assessment in both policy surveillance and the market pricing of sovereign debt. We establish the size, destination, and characteristics of China's overseas lending. We identify three key distinguishing features.First, almost all of China's lending and investment abroad is official. As a result, the standard "push" and "pull" drivers of private cross-border flows do not play the same role in this case. Second, the documentation of China's capital exports is (at best) opaque. China does not report on its official lending and there is no comprehensive standardized data on Chinese overseas debt stocks and flows. Third, the type of flows is tailored by recipient. Advanced and higher middle-income countries tend to receive portfolio debt flows, via sovereign bond purchases of the People's Bank of China. Lower income developing economies mostly receive direct loans from China's state-owned banks, often at market rates and backed by collateral such as oil. Our new dataset covers a total of 1,974 Chinese loans and 2,947 Chinese grants to 152 countries from 1949 to 2017. We find that about one half of China's overseas loans to the developing world are "hidden".

Suggested Citation

  • Horn, Sebastian & Reinhart, Carmen M. & Trebesch, Christoph, 2019. "China's overseas lending," Kiel Working Papers 2132, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifwkwp:2132
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. This Time Truly Is Different
      by Carmen M. Reinhart in Project Syndicate on 2020-03-23 13:05:29

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:cpr:ceprdp:14315 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Laura Alfaro & Fabio Kanczuk, 2019. "Undisclosed Debt Sustainability," NBER Working Papers 26347, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Isha Agarwal & Grace Weishi Gu & Eswar S. Prasad, 2019. "China’s Impact on Global Financial Markets," NBER Working Papers 26311, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Zhang, Yifei & Fang, Heyang, 2020. "Does China's overseas lending favor One Belt One Road countries?," MPRA Paper 97954, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Zhang, Yifei & Fang, Heyang, 2019. "Does China's overseas lending favors One Belt One Road countries?," MPRA Paper 97785, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    China; international capital flows; official finance; hidden debts; sovereign risk; Belt and Road initiative;

    JEL classification:

    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • F42 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - International Policy Coordination and Transmission
    • F65 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Finance
    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt
    • N25 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - Asia including Middle East

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