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News from China
Job market competition intensifies in Q2
3rd July 2020

 The second quarter saw more intense competition in the job market, as the growth of job seekers outpaced job postings, a new industry study finds.

Nationwide, around 50 white-collar workers are competing for one position. The job-seeking competition index (which measures resumes received versus number of posts) increased by 2.8 percent quarter on quarter, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, online recruitment firm said.
Affected by the epidemic, the overall number of job postings and resumes delivered in the April-to-June period has not yet reached the same level compared with last year.
Specifically, the number of job applications jumped by 25.5 percent in the second quarter, outpacing the growth rate of job positions available in the same period (17.7 percent).
Recruits can earn 8,715 yuan (US$1,233) per month on average and the biomedical engineering industry had the largest pay increase, according to the study.
Source: Shanghai Daily, July 3, 2020
China's central bank lowers relending, rediscount rates
2nd July 2020

 China’s central bank said it will lower relending and rediscount rates by 25 basis points respectively, to bolster small businesses and rural sectors hit by COVID-19.

From Wednesday, the rediscount rates were cut by 25 basis points to 2 percent. The rates of three-month, six-month and one-year reloans supporting agriculture and small firms will be 1.95 percent, 2.15 percent and 2.25 percent after the cut, the People’s Bank of China said. This is the second adjustment this year. In February, the central bank cut the relending rates to 2.5 percent from 2.75 percent.
The PBOC will lower the interest rates of financial stability relending loans by 0.5 percentage points to 1.75 percent.
The country has rolled out a slew of measures to cushion the economic blow from the epidemic, and help virus-hit businesses weather through the difficult period.
For instance, the central bank in February issued special reloans of 300 billion yuan (US$42.5 billion) and pumped 1.2 trillion yuan into the financial system via reverse repos.
In addition, a State Council meeting in March said the relending and rediscount quota for small and medium-sized banks will be expanded by one trillion yuan to support private businesses and small firms.
“The PBOC may add more liquidity via relending and rediscounting to make sense of the 25 basis-point-cut to relending and rediscounting rates. The exact impact of cutting these rates hinges on the amount of relending and rediscounting in coming months,” Nomura said in its latest report.
The report also said reserve requirement ratio cuts are still possible. “We maintain our call for 150 basis points of total RRR cuts for the remainder of this year and believe the next RRR cut could come in the next month, at a scale of 50-100 basis point. However, these RRR cuts could be partly replaced by liquidity injections via relending and rediscounting.”
Source: Shanghai Daily, July 2, 2020
IMF official says China's Fintech sector 'instrumental' in helping SMEs amid pandemic
30th June 2020

 An International Monetary Fund official has said that China's Fintech sector was quite "instrumental" in helping small and medium-sized enterprises obtain credit, noting that it's a crucial element in getting through the COVID-19 lockdown.

"The payments that are conducted and facilitated through tech firms are very large in China," Tobias Adrian, financial counselor and director of the IMF's Monetary and Capital Markets Department, told Xinhua in a recent video interview.
Despite banks as dominating creditors, plus a large corporate bond market, Adrian said that Fintech element is important for households and for SMEs, which account for a substantial fraction of gross domestic product in China.
Noting that there's a tremendous amount of innovation in financial services across the globe, the IMF official said on some dimensions, "China has really led the way" on many financial technology developments.
Adrian added that he would expect Fintech developments to spread more rapidly around the world in response to the virus, because contactless payments and online credit are much more important in the current situation.
In an update to its April Global Financial Stability Report, the IMF warned on Thursday that the ongoing disconnect between financial markets and the real economy is a "vulnerability," which could pose a threat to the recovery should investor risk appetite fade.
"So what we are referring to is a tug of war between financial conditions and economic conditions," Adrian said.
"Asset prices in some countries and some sectors have returned to pre-COVID levels ... yet the forecast for earnings going forward is lower, and the uncertainty around the future path is higher," he told Xinhua.
As governments adopt "unconventional" monetary policy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, interest rates have been lower, and the pricing of the risk has compressed, which have pushed up asset prices, he said.
Noting that central banks have contributed to the easing of financial conditions, the IMF official said at this point he doesn't believe there is clear evidence of bubbles, generated by irrational pricing.
A number of developments could, however, trigger a decline in risk assets' prices, including a deeper and longer-than-anticipated recession, a second wave of infections with ensuing containment measures, as well as geopolitical tensions or broadening social unrest in response to rising global inequality, said the updated report.
Expectations about the extent of central banks' support could turn out to be "too optimistic," also leading investors to reassess their appetite and pricing of risk, the report added.
"I do believe that central banks should continue to conduct this easy stance, accommodative stance of monetary policy because it helps the real economy," Adrian said. "At the same time, prudential authorities have to make sure that prudential buffers in banks, but also in households and corporations are sufficient."
The IMF official noted that banks have much higher capital and liquidity going into this crisis as a result of decade-long reforms, and the amount of capital is going to be sufficient "in most countries for most banks."
"But of course, some countries are going to be hit especially hard, and some of the weaker banks might need to be resolved," he said, "furthermore, in some countries, there could even be system-wide distress."
The updated report also highlighted the issue of high levels of debt, saying that corporate and household debt burdens "could become unmanageable" for some borrowers in severe economic contraction.
"The high debt level is a vulnerability," Adrian said, "but interest rates are likely to be lower as well going forward, so the debt service burden might not increase."
"So the question is always is the level of debt sustainable? And is it sustainable in various scenarios going forward, so if stress is recurring, if economic activity slows down further? And the answer is varied across countries," the IMF official said.
"Riskier borrowers, where debt sustainability might be (in) question, do face high borrowing costs, and some of them might be shut out of markets," he said.
Adrian said that about 70 countries have received emergency financing from the IMF amid the pandemic, and the multilateral lender has been working closely with other organizations including the World Bank to help countries address the crisis.
Source: Shanghai Daily, June 30,2020
China on blue alert as rainstorms continue to wreak havoc
29th June 2020

 China's national observatory on Monday issued a blue alert for rainstorms as heavy downpours continue to wreak havoc in vast stretches of the country.

From Monday morning to Tuesday morning, heavy rain and rainstorms are expected in the provinces of Zhejiang, Anhui, Hubei, Jiangxi, Hunan, Guizhou, Yunnan, Sichuan, Hebei and Shandong, the National Meteorological Center said.
Some of these regions will see up to 70 mm of hourly precipitation accompanied by thunderstorms and strong winds, the center said.
The center advised local authorities to remain alert for possible flooding, landslides and mudslides and recommended halting outdoor operations in hazardous areas.
China has a four-tier color-coded weather warning system, with red representing the most severe, followed by orange, yellow and blue.
Since June, continuous downpours have lashed large parts of southern China and the waters of many rivers in the affected regions exceeded warning levels.
China on Sunday activated a level-IV emergency response, the lowest in the country's four-tier warning system, after rainstorms triggered floods in central and southwestern regions of the country.
Source: Shanghai Daily, June 29, 2020

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