Tags: Asia | debt | bubble | China

Asia Ramps up Debt, While US, Europe Retrench

Friday, 24 May 2013 11:09 AM

By Dan Weil

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Asia is taking on a major debt load at the same time the United States and Europe are deleveraging, leading some to worry about a bubble.

But few think a crisis will come quickly, and unlike Europe and the United States, Asia is growing quickly, which makes its debt easier to service, The Wall Street Journal points out. In addition, Asia has mostly been borrowing in domestic currencies, not foreign currencies like it did in the 1990s.

Nonetheless, a borrowing boom has hit China, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia, The Journal reports.

Forbes Columnist:
‘Who the Hell Cleared This?’

Asia's overall debt-to-gross domestic product ratio hit 155 percent in the middle of last year, up from 133 percent in 2008, according to McKinsey Global Institute.

China is blazing the trail, with a ratio of 183 percent, up from 153 percent in 2008.

That has created some concern.

"China's financial system is still fragile and vulnerable," Yu Yongding, a Chinese economist who has served as an adviser to China's central bank, told The Journal. "I don't think there will be a financial crisis at the moment, but there are a host of land mines ahead."

As for Asia's overall debt buildup, "you don't want to demonize credit booms per se, but it's a red flag," Giovanni Dell'Ariccia, an International Monetary Fund economist, told The Journal.

Meanwhile, Asia has been a major focus as investors flock to emerging market bonds. But those bonds may be turning into a bubble too, some experts warn.

"I hate to say this, but in five years’ time a lot of this will get hammered," one investment banker told the Financial Times.

Forbes Columnist: ‘Who the Hell Cleared This?’

© 2014 Moneynews. All rights reserved.

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