The Impact of the Global Financial Crisis on China's Banking Sector
AbstractThe banking sector had long been left at the fringes of China's reform policies. Major initiatives of the 1990 and early 2000s helped to balance the need for modernization and internationalization with the objective of preserving political control. When the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) erupted in 2007, it hit the Chinese economy but predominantly in its export sector and much less in its financial sector. Yet when exports collapsed and factories closed in the winter of 2008/2009, the Chinese leadership implemented an ambitious stimulus program and used its leverage over the financial sector to re-start economic growth. These factors – GFC and domestic stimulus – created a series of intended and unintended outcomes. Financial reform in China entered a new stage signalling a profound change in China's banking sector. These changes follow two sometimes contradictive, sometimes mutually reinforcing reform dynamics of top-down policies and bottom-up innovation. In this article we follow an institutional approach and discuss the intensified participation of China's big banks in the Go Out strategy, followed by a shift in the pattern of lending. One factor in this change is the rise of shadow banking and particularly an explosive growth in internet-based financial services. Thus, while the initial reaction to the GFC re-emphasized direct, top-down state involvement in the banking sector, the outcomes of the GFC, China's policies and business innovations have facilitated profound bottom-up changes.
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