Economists have wondered for months whether China’s property meltdown would trigger a financial crisis. The consensus so far has been that it won’t. But perhaps the financial crisis has been here all along, right under our noses.
The answer hinges on how you define the terms “financial,” “crisis” and “financial crisis.” Conversations about financial crises in China or anywhere else conventionally focus on banks or overtly bank-like institutions as the core of the financial system. We care about their fate because these companies are particularly exposed to ill economic winds and also are peculiarly capable of collapsing on top of the rest of an economy. But there are plenty of companies you might not call a bank that operate as one—especially in China.
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