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China's Central Bank Shuts the Spigot

Stocks in this article: BACHY IDCBY HGSH

"Short-lived spikes in interbank rates are not unusual in China due to shifts in the supply and demand for liquidity and the fact that policymakers don't directly target interbank rates as a policy tool," Williams says. "But the People's Bank has always stepped in in the past to smooth things out."

Beijing, tired of being an econo-medic, appears ready for whatever fallout comes as long as its decision helps advance a broader goal of a cooler, more balanced economy.

Communist officials said in March after forming a new government that they wanted a more balanced economy after more than a decade of dangerously fast growth. For social stability, they also want to control housing prices that are driven more often than not by speculators.

A "cautious attitude toward fueling another round of easy money is necessary to squeeze the bubbles and send the economic vessel onto a safer route," the state-run Xinhua News Agency said in a June 26 commentary.

"Analysts have lowered their forecasts of China's GDP growth for 2013," the commentary continues. "But the central (monetary) authority has shown rare tolerance for slower growth rate in exchange for more sustainable and balanced development. It has the courage, as well as the ammunition to keep the situation within control."

Balanced-growth reformists in Beijing got their way largely because the government had approved a 4 trillion yuan ($652 million) post-global financial crisis stimulus package that included bank lending. And look who got stimulated.

Banks, developers and local governments "used the package as a chance to start a credit binge," Xinhua said, sending money to financial derivatives instead of the "real economy."

Debt from Chinese enterprises totaled 122% of the country's $8.28 trillion GDP in 2012, the news agency added, citing a State Information Center researcher.

By the book of today's economic reforms, lending is supposed to go to legit projects with paybacks, the storybook cash advance to open a store, earn some money from sales and then pay the loan back.

Quoting the oddly outspoken Xinhua again, "It is time to deflate bubbles and restore normal practice. The road map is clear."

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