Bankers in China’s banking sector are trying to limit the damage from the capital controls imposed on the country by Beijing, as the country braces for the country’s second biggest economic slowdown in five years.
The government’s moves to limit foreign exchange, deposit and withdrawal to one yuan per day are aimed at preventing money laundering and other criminal activity, the Chinese Central Bank said Thursday.
The move has left many banking professionals concerned.
“What we are seeing is the most severe capital controls in a long time,” said a banker in Beijing.
“We are seeing a lot of panic and fear in the market.”
The banks in China are trying a range of measures, including limiting customers’ access to international cash and limiting customers to one day of withdrawals, to make it easier for customers to keep their money.
But the country is still reeling from the effects of the 2008-2009 financial crisis that plunged the country into an economic depression and sparked a huge stock market bubble.
The capital controls have been implemented in response to an influx of overseas capital inflows.
The latest round of measures are being driven by fears that the capital restrictions will hurt China’s economy and put more pressure on the banking sector.
But some analysts fear that the restrictions will actually help banks, particularly in the fast-growing and emerging consumer-credit sector, to survive.
“The government is trying to create a situation where the financial system can cope,” said one Chinese banking executive.
“The Chinese government will make sure that the banking system is strong enough to withstand the economic crisis.”
Banks in China have been grappling with a number of issues.
The banking system has been in a state of uncertainty and some have been forced to cut staff and cut prices in an effort to meet capital controls.
The financial system has also been hurt by the recent devaluation of the yuan, which caused capital outflows and hurt the economy in recent months.
The Chinese Central Bureau of Statistics said in December that the country has a $3 trillion banking system, but it has struggled to keep up with its growing financial needs.
Its economy grew by 4.5 percent in the second quarter, and the government is seeking to increase the growth rate to 5 percent by 2020.
In January, the central bank increased the size of its reserve fund by $2 trillion to $4.8 trillion, an amount that the central banks of Europe and Japan have struggled to meet.
In response, some economists have called for tighter capital controls and tighter regulations.
China has imposed capital controls since 2009 and has limited foreign exchange and deposit rates to one per day.
Some of the measures have caused panic and have led to panic buying, which is now being called a “capital flight phenomenon.”
The central bank said Thursday that it is targeting $4 trillion of capital outflow and $3.4 trillion in deposits by 2020 to ensure the financial stability of the banking and credit systems.
The move comes amid signs that China’s economic recovery is getting back on track, but the banking industry remains concerned.
Some analysts say the tightening capital controls could make the economy weaker in the long run.
The central government has also announced a $1.5 trillion loan guarantee program for local banks, with the money to be used to support the development of new banks, which has caused some banks to sell their assets.
The money will also be used for capital outflights and for credit expansion.
“We expect the financial sector will continue to respond in a way that can withstand the capital control measures,” said Li Liyan, an economist at the Shanghai-based Shanghai Banking Institute.