Mortgages drove new loan growth in 2016 at China’s four largest commercial banks, highlighting the scale of money tied up in the frothy property sector. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China and China Construction Bank saw between 64% and 82% of their new loans last year go toward mortgages, totaling 2.7 trillion yuan ($391 billion). According to Caixin, such high levels of private-sector debt run against the government’s push for consumption-driven growth, as borrowers will need to pay off mortgages with money that could be spent to help the larger economy. The percentages suggest that the largest banks are dealing more in mortgages than the entire banking sector. Figures released in January by the People’s Bank of China said that 45% of all new loans last year went to mortgages, but the government will try to reduce this number to 30%.
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