On Friday China had what some are calling its “Bear Stearns moment”. For the first time ever in the history of the People’s Republic, a domestic company announced it could not make an interest payment due on one of its loans, and Beijing did not intervene or lean on creditors to suppress their claims. In allowing the first ever bond default to proceed, the concept of risk has been introduced to the Chinese $1.4 trillion corporate bond market, that had heretofore been blindly chasing the highest coupon payments with no concern for the creditworthiness of the borrower. The revelation that capital loss is now part of the investment landscape naturally causes participants to re-evaluate risk and look for significantly higher yields in compensation.
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