China may cut lending in '11 to curb prices: Experts

Updated: 2010-11-25 11:20
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BEIJING - The Chinese government is expected to set a lower target for new lending for 2011 than the 7.5 trillion yuan ($1.13 trillion) for this year as it strives to combat price hikes, experts said.

Wang Jun, a researcher with the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, forecast a range from 7 trillion yuan to 7.5 trillion yuan for new loans in 2011, a slight drop to keep inflation in check.

"The government would not allow the same or more money to be pumped into the market as excessive liquidity has fueled fears of rising inflation," he said.

Chinese banks extended about 9.6 trillion yuan of new loans to back economic growth in 2009. The figure for this year is expected to top the government's goal of 7.5 trillion yuan, with new loans in the first 10 months reaching 6.9 trillion yuan.

The money has helped push up consumer prices to a 25-month high of 4.4 percent in October, above the government's ceiling of 3 percent for the full year.

The inflationary pressure has forced the government to mop up liquidity by using monetary tools and impose administrative intervention to contain prices.

Wang expected the monetary policy for 2011 will be steered from "moderately loose" over the two years to 2010 to "steady" in the next year rather than "tight."

He ruled out the possibility of big drops in new lending or a policy shift to "tight" as the real economy still needed a certain amount of credit to bolster growth and ensure employment.

Combating inflation was an important task but not the principal one, he added. The government would continue to seek a balance between maintaining economic growth, accelerating economic restructuring and fighting inflation in 2011.

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The view was shared by Rosealea Yao, principal analyst with Dragonomics Research and Advisory, a research firm in Beijing, who estimated a bigger decline of new loans to around 6.5 trillion yuan in 2011.

She blamed monetary pressure as one cause of the price hikes, saying "the current inflation is the result of wage pressures, exacerbated by monetary pressures arising from the 2009-10 stimulus program."

But she said there was no need for "too much tightening measures" next year as the Chinese economy was cooling.

Chinese banks had submitted their 2011 new lending plan, which was similar in scale to this year's, the Shanghai Securities News reported Wednesday. However, China's central bank may cut its lending in order to ensure normal credit growth, according to the report.

Wang said the government should set a CPI target ceiling range, so it could be more flexible in introducing measures. He suggested a CPI target ceiling between 3 and 4 percent would be appropriate.