PBOC Vows to Stimulate Consumer Prices Amid Deflation Fears

(Bloomberg) -- China’s central bank vowed to step up existing monetary policy and stimulate consumer prices, which last month continued their slide, falling at the steepest pace in three years.Most Read from BloombergThe Late-Night Email to Tim Cook That Set the Apple Watch Saga in MotionBridgewater CEO’s Past Office Romance Led to Favoritism ClaimsChinese Carmaker Overtakes Tesla as World’s Most Popular EV MakerL’Oreal Heir Francoise Bettencourt Meyers Becomes First Woman With $100 Billion FortuneXiaomi Unveils Its First EV, With Ambition to Be China’s Porsche or TeslaThe People’s Bank of China vowed to implement a prudent monetary policy in targeted and effective manner and reaffirmed its pledge to push consumer prices higher, according to a statement Thursday following the bank’s quarterly monetary policy committee meeting.The central bank said it will “promote price recovery from low levels and keep prices at reasonable levels.” It also strives “to expand domestic demand, boost confidence, and promote a virtuous economic cycle.”Those pledges are a repeat of commitments in the third quarter following a regular meeting of the committee. The latest comments come as data showed China’s consumer prices falling in November and producer costs extending declines, underscoring the challenges facing the economic recovery.“The main challenge for China’s economy in 2024 may be whether policies can mitigate deflation risks,” Tommy Xie, head of Greater China research at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp., said in a note Friday.“If deflation risks persist longer than expected in 2024, China may resort to more aggressive easing measures such as interest rate cuts or restarting the Pledged Supplementary Lending program to expand the central bank balance sheet to boost aggregate demand,” he added.The latest comments indicate the PBOC may mainly use structural aid to target high-quality economic growth, according to a note by Sinolink Securities Co. on Friday. “The possibility of broad easing has declined in the short term,” analysts including Zhao Wei wrote.Story continuesIn contrast to broad easing steps that benefit the entire economy — such as cuts to interest rates or banks’ required cash reserves — structural tools guide credit toward more targeted areas. The PBOC has elevated the role of such tools in recent years as it seeks to transition the economy away from debt-fueled growth especially from the property sector.The outstanding amount of structural tools reached 7 trillion yuan ($984 billion) by the end of September, dwarfing the central bank’s one-year policy loans for commercial banks.Re-lending programs are a main form of such tools, where the PBOC provides cheap funding to banks under the condition that they use the money to lend to desired firms, such as those developing green technology or those involved in completing unfinished housing projects. The central bank has said it would set up new programs when needed.Another highly-anticipated tool is the so-called Pledged Supplemental Lending program to policy banks. Markets are watching closely whether the PBOC will use this low-cost funding to finance construction projects including affordable housing and the renovation of urban villages.In recent months. the PBOC has stepped up liquidity injection to help banks buy up a deluge of government bonds issued to support infrastructure spending. That’s likely to continue as the central bank reaffirmed it will keep liquidity reasonably ample.The large injection will help “dispel market expectations for further cuts to the reserve requirement ratio,” the Sinolink analysts said.--With assistance from Foster Wong and Evelyn Yu.(Updates with additional details throughout)Most Read from Bloomberg BusinessweekElon Musk Made 2023 All About HimselfWhat Dermatologists Really Think About Those Anti-Aging ProductsThe Most Secretive Longevity Lab Finally Opens Its DoorsWhat the Oldest Lab Rodents Are Teaching Humans About Staying YoungHow the Elf on the Shelf Took Over Christmas©2023 Bloomberg L.P.