Asset or Liability? The Role of the Financial System in the Political Economy of China’s Rebalancing

Julian Gruin


China’s financial system, dominated by the banking sector, has played a central role in the development of an imbalanced trajectory of economic development and growth. As one of the primary mechanisms for implementing decisive macro-economic policy, the banking sector has hitherto served the Chinese growth strategy well in actively allocating capital towards the investment and export sectors, whilst proving capable of managing the macro-economic ramifications of this highly inter-ventionist strategy. However, the role of the financial system in this growth strategy is also rooted in the requirement that authority over financial capital remains closely tied to state institutions and policies, due to elite concern over politico-economic instability. Based on policy analysis and qualitative interviews conducted in mid-2012, the article suggests that whilst the structure of the financial system was conducive to fostering the growth of the real economy, it will hold back not the need for rebalancing, but rather the process of rebalancing itself.

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