China Exclusive: Moody's downgrade not to constitute major impact on China: China, U.S. experts

新华社| 2017-06-07 07:31:01|Editor: Xiang Bo
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BEIJING, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Experts from China and the United States have agreed that Moody's downgrade of China's credit ratings would not constitute major impact on the country, and there was no need to over-react.

Rating agency Moody's last month lowered China's long-term local currency and foreign currency issuer ratings from Aa3 to A1, the same level as Japan.

"Undoubtedly, the downgrade does not mean imminent danger, rather it implies long-term concerns," said Rory MacFarquhar, a visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) and a special assistant to former President Barack Obama for international economics, in a video dialogue between Chinese and U.S. economists.

Despite the lower rating, China still ranks high among major emerging economies and would remain attractive for investment, he said.

Echoing MacFarquhar, senior fellow at the PIIE Jeromin Zettelmeyer believed that there was no need for over-response as the downgrade was more like a prediction for future risks.

Considering China's growth momentum, "there is a small chance of crisis, very small I should say," he stressed.

China's economy expanded 6.9 percent in the first quarter, above the full-year target of 6.5 percent and the 6.8-percent growth in the fourth quarter of 2016. For the first four months, fiscal revenue, a gauge of the government's ability in macroeconomic regulation, jumped 11.8 percent, compared to 8.6 percent for the same period last year.

Although momentum has been weakening since April, analysts still agree that the economy will be resilient.

Zhang Chenghui, director of the Research Institute of Finance under the Development Research Center of the State Council, called Moody's downgrade a "misjudgment."

"The agency overestimated Chinese government reliance on policy stimulus, while underestimating the effects of China's supply-side structural reform," Zhang noted.

In Moody's downgrade, the agency claimed that increases in China's local government financing platforms and debt owed by SOEs would lead to rising government contingent liabilities, which Zhang said was "unscientific."

The debt of local financing platforms or central SOEs cannot be simply lumped under "government debt," he said.

In a comment on the downgrade, China's Ministry of Finance has stressed that the government debt risks are controllable overall, with a debt ratio of 36.7 percent in 2016, well below the 60-percent warning line of the European Union and lower than other major developed or emerging economies.

The ministry said it was unlikely that government debt risk would change much in 2018-2020, compared to 2016.

For Guan Jianzhong, chairman of Chinese rating agency Dagong Global Credit Rating, the current rating standards are still dominated by a handful global agencies such as Moody's, which is not fair.

"Against the backdrop of economic globalization, rating agencies should reevaluate the current system and speed up reform to formulate a new global rating framework," Guan said.