China’s shadow banking is back in full swing, an unintended side effect of the government’s campaign against financial leverage, which has curbed traditional lending and squeezed bond financing. Data from the central bank Friday showed that off-balance sheet lending surged 754 billion yuan ($109 billion) in March, taking the first quarter’s total increase to a record 2.05 trillion yuan. Efforts by the People’s Bank of China to curb fresh lending may have prompted borrowers, especially real estate developers, to resort to alternative forms of financing, said Xu Gao, chief economist at Everbright Securities Co. Since late last year, the PBOC and regulators have taken steps to rein in risks to China’s financial system. According to Bloomberg, the measures have sent debt-reliant borrowers scurrying to shadow financing, an industry Moody’s Investors Service estimates is worth about $8.5 trillion, and another area where regulators are trying to reduce risk.
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