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China Set To Make History With Record Number Of Bond Defaults In 2019

While China is bracing for what may be a historic D-Day event on December 9, when the "unprecedented" default of state-owned, commodity-trading conglomerate Tewoo with $38 billion in assets may take place, it has already been a banner year for Chinese bankruptcies.According to Bloomberg data, China is set to hit another dismal milestone in 2019 when a record amount of onshore bonds are set to default, confirming that something is indeed cracking in China's financial system and "testing the government’s ability to keep financial markets stable as the economy slows and companies struggle to cope with unprecedented levels of debt."After a brief lull in the third quarter, a burst of at least 15 new defaults since the start of November have sent the year’s total to 120.4 billion yuan ($17.1 billion), and set to eclipse the 121.9 billion yuan annual record in 2018.The good news is that this number still represents a tiny fraction of China’s $4.4 trillion onshore corporate bond market; the bad news is that the rapidly rising number is approaching a tipping point that could unleash a default cascade, and in the process fueling concerns of potential contagion as investors struggle to gauge which companies have Beijing’s support. As Bloomberg notes, policy makers have been walking a tightrope as they try to roll back the implicit guarantees that have long distorted Chinese debt markets, without dragging down an economy already weakened by the trade war and tepid global growth."The authorities have found it hard to rescue all the companies," said Wang Ying, a Shanghai-based analyst at Fitch Ratings, perhaps envisioning at least two banks that have experienced depositor runs in the month of November in the aftermath of an unprecedented succession of bank failures earlier in the year.It's not just banks however: this year’s debt woes have spread to a broad array of industries, from property developers and steelmakers to new-energy firms and software makers. The types of borrowers facing repayment difficulties has also expanded from private companies and local state-run firms to business arms of universities, an obscure and loosely regulated corner of China’s corporate world.China's two latest defaults involved just such a company; on Monday Peking University Founder Group shocked investors after failing to repay a 2 billion yuan bond. The same day, Tunghsu Optoelectronic Technology, a maker of photoelectric display components, also failed to deliver early repayment on both interest and principal for a 1.7 billion yuan note.Read the entire article