Given the lower-than-budgeted fiscal revenue growth so far in 2019 (chart 1), the central government may find it difficult to fulfil its fiscal transfer budgets. As such, local governments could rely more on borrowing to support infrastructure investment. As the total local government bond issuance quota of CNY3.1tn has been fulfilled this year, the total size of extra issuance could be up to CNY2.5tn (including CNY1.3tn in general and CNY1.2tn in special) if necessary. If the government decides to fully utilize the extra special bond issuance quota within the debt ceiling, it could bring CNY2.1tn funds to the government to support infrastructure investment. However, chart 2 shows that special bond issuance has been subdued since it reached its year-high in June. Given the restricted commencement of winter construction, special bond issuance will likely remain subdued in Q4.
Last but not least, subdued issuance of special bonds in Q4 will not alter the trend of China's ballooning debt/GDP ratio. Latest data (chart 3) suggests that the ratio has already risen above 300%.
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