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The Disappearance of Chinese Banks

The savings and loan (S&L) crisis that plagued American banks in the mid-1980s is now rearing its head in China. A combination of aggressive lending practices, lax risk controls, and a property downturn led to the collapse or consolidation of over 1,000 small lending institutions in the US. Now, China’s smallest banks are facing similar challenges.

In a surprising turn of events, 40 Chinese banks vanished in just one week as they were absorbed into larger institutions. This rate of disappearance far surpasses what was seen during the height of the S&L crisis in the US. The problems that plagued American banks decades ago are now making themselves known in China’s banking sector.

The rapid consolidation of Chinese banks is a cause for concern, as it highlights the underlying issues that many small lenders are facing. Weak risk controls, aggressive lending growth, and a struggling property market have all contributed to the current crisis. It is clear that steps need to be taken to address these issues before more banks are forced to merge or collapse.

The implications of this crisis extend beyond just the banking sector. As smaller banks are absorbed into larger ones, there is a risk of reduced competition and innovation in the industry. This could have negative consequences for consumers and the overall economy.

It is imperative that Chinese regulators and banks take proactive steps to address the root causes of this crisis. Strengthening risk controls, improving transparency, and implementing stricter lending practices are all key measures that need to be taken to prevent further bank failures.

The recent wave of bank mergers and collapses in China serves as a stark reminder of the importance of prudent risk management in the financial sector. By learning from the mistakes of the past, Chinese banks can work towards creating a more stable and resilient banking system for the future.

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