FXStreet – Gerard Burg, Senior Economist at NAB, suggests that the early weeks of 2016 have seen more turmoil in Chinese financial markets, as volatility in share markets has persisted and concerns around capital outflows have continued to grow. Key Quotes “Allied with a further slowing trend in China’s economy at the end of 2015, it appears that the outlook for China in the year of the Monkey is riskier than has been the case in recent years. China’s debt levels have grown considerably over the past decade. According to a relatively narrow estimate, total debt (comprising bank loans, other social financing and government bonds) totalled just over 250% of GDP in December 2015. China cannot afford to allow debt to grow unchecked – to do so would increase the likelihood of a major financial crisis and a hard landing longer term. However managing this debt burden would likely mean tolerating a lower potential rate of economic growth than seen in previous years – something that may face severe political opposition. An acceleration in capital outflows was a key theme for China in 2015, and there have been increasing calls globally for China to implement short term capital controls – most notably from the Bank of Japan’s Governor Kuroda – in stark contrast to the opening up of the capital account encouraged by the IMF ahead of the Yuan’s inclusion in the Special Drawing Rights basket. While short term controls may help stabilise the financial sector, it would not be encouraging to see China lose momentum in its broad reform agenda There is little to suggest that the volatility in Chinese markets in the early weeks of 2016 is set to lessen quickly. Aside from the inherent risks associated with volatility in equity and financial markets, the policy response from China’s government adds an extra element of uncertainty – as rumours around short term capital controls persist. We forecast China’s economic growth to ease to 6.7% in 2016 (from 6.9% last year) – however risks to this forecast are clearly weighted to the downside.” For more information, read our latest forex news.