In the past few months, we have seen that China Total Social Financing (TSF), a broader measure of credit and liquidity, has been falling sharply with the annual change in TSF 12-month sum down from over 10tr CNY in October 2020 to nearly 0 in May 2021. As a result, investors’ concern has been growing as they have been questioning if the rally we have observed in global asset prices can continue in the coming 6 to 12 months without Chinese help.
In the past cycle , periods of contraction in Chinese liquidity were usually associated with a fall in both domestic and international asset prices. This chart shows the striking co-movement between the annual change in China Tech stocks (CQQQ ETF) and the annual change in China TSF 12M sum. China Tech stocks are down over 25% since their mid-February highs; according to this chart, China tech stocks are expected to continue to consolidate in the short term.
Since the start of the year, we have seen that the annual change in China Total Social Financing (TSF) 12 Sum has been shrinking rapidly, which could eventually become a problem for risky assets. Previous periods of sharp contraction in China TSF (i.e. 2018) have been associated with a sudden rise in risk-off assets such as USD or US Treasuries. Figure 1 shows that the annual change in China TSF 12M Sum fell from over 10tr CNY in October to 3.1tr CNY April.
Interestingly, we can notice that that a contraction in Chinese ‘liquidity’ has usually been followed by a fall in US long-term bond yields. For instance, figure 2 shows the 6M change in US 10Y Treasury yield with the 6M change in China 12M sum (8M lead). According to this chart, the consolidation the US 10Y yield has just begun.
Copper was one of the major assets to benefit from the constant liquidity injections from central banks to prevent economies from falling into a deflationary depression. The front-month futures contract has more than doubled since its March low of 2.06 and is currently trading at 4.3, its highest level since August 2011.
However, we have also seen that copper prices (and other commodities heavily relying on Chinese economy) has been very sensitive to the annual change in China Total Social Financing (TSF). This chart shows that the annual change in China TSF 12M sum has been falling for the past 4 months, which has previously been associated with a correction in copper prices and other base metals. Can the momentum in copper continue without Chinese stimulus?