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China finds $84bn local government debt irregularities

National Audit Office said breaches included “irregular credit guarantees”, “irregular collateral” and “fraudulent and underpayment of registered capital”.

There are growing concerns about the amount of bad loans being held by local governments.Official figures show they held debt of 10.7tn yuan ($1.7tn; £1.1tn) in 2010.

“The State Council is studying proposals to enhance local government debt management and to address fiscal and financial risks,” the audit office said in the report.
‘Again and again’
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A lot of the local debt will be absorbed by the central government”
Michael Pettis Peking University

Local governments have been borrowing money from Chinese banks to fund projects aimed at maintaining economic growth.

According to the China Banking Regulatory Commission, local governments took up 80% of total bank lending in China at the end of 2010.

However, analysts said that although the lending had helped to spur investment and boost growth, it was now weighing on local governments.

“Whenever you look at lending that spurs growth miracles, it starts off with an increasing ability to pay the debt,” Professor Michael Pettis of Peking University told the BBC.

“But in every case that ability fades. That is the process that is happening in China,” he explained. “We are going to see stories like this again and again.”
Easing burden?

In October last year, China allowed four local governments to sell bonds for the first time in 17 year. It was hoped the sale would help them pay their loans.

However, the central government put a limit on the amount of bonds the local governments could issue despite the fact that there was a lot of interest among investors.

According to the Xinhua news agency, Shanghai’s bond sale received bids for three times the amount of bonds on offer.

As a result, many of the local governments still have sizeable debts and while the central government may let them raise money, it may also have to take further measures to solve the problem, analysts said.

“A lot of the local debt will be absorbed by the central government,” said Mr Pettis of Peking University.

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PSG say LA Galaxy set to retain player

David Beckham: PSG say LA Galaxy set to retain player

David Beckham has decided not to join Paris Saint-Germain for family reasons, according to reports in France.

The former England captain, 36, had been widely linked with a move to the Qatari-owned French club but could now extend his spell in the United States with Los Angeles Galaxy.
“It’s over. It’s a shame,” PSG sporting director Leonardo told L’Equipe.
“But the welfare of his family in LA, the wish not to change everything in his life, weighed heavily.”

Beckham has been weighing up his options since helping LA Galaxy win the MLS Cup in November with a 1-0 win over Houston Dynamo.
Joining PSG would have resulted in Beckham joining forces again with newly-appointed PSG manager Carlo Ancelotti and sporting director Leonardo, having worked with both men at AC Milan during loan spells in 2009 and 2010.

But, as BBC Sport revealed last week, the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star looks like remaining in the US following discussions with his family and business partner Simon Fuller.

It is understood that Beckham’s wife, Victoria, and their four children feel settled in California and are happy to stay.

Beckham’s contract with Galaxy expired on 31 December but the club and Major League Soccer have now offered him a one-year rolling deal.

Crucially, the new contract would include dispensation for Beckham to be part of the Great Britain football team at the 2012 London Olympics, should he be selected.

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