Moody's, the credit rating agency, has revised its outlook for China's government bonds from stable to negative, citing mounting concerns about the country's escalating debts and decelerating economy with the downgrade reflecting apprehensions that the Chinese government may need to extend financial assistance to financially strained regional and local governments, as well as State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs). This potential scenario raises extensive risks across China's fiscal, economic, and institutional domains as the challenges China faces in achieving sustained and robust medium-term economic growth could lead into widespread uncertainty. While Moody's predicts China's annual GDP growth will be 4.0% in both 2024 and 2025, with an average of 3.8% from 2026 to 2030, structural factors, including demographic shifts, are anticipated to contribute to a decline in potential growth to approximately 3.5% by 2030.
Moreover, a key factor seems to be the ongoing "downsizing" phenomenon within China's property sector, a key economic driver as numerous developers, such as Evergrande, are engaged in debt restructuring efforts. This downsizing, coupled with financial distress in the property sector, adds another layer of complexity to China's economic landscape with Moody's cautious outlook reflecting a combination of concerns, encompassing potential government interventions, persistently lower economic growth, and challenges within the property sector which all contribute to the agency's negative assessment and signal a challenging economic trajectory for China in the coming years. As we have previously seen, China's economy while being self contained in some aspects also has a major impact on global economies as it is closely tied to both raw material imports/exports and the global debt market so any major outlook shift may lead to significant repercussions across other major markets like the US and Europe.
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