Chip shortage threatens to curb China's momentum as EV global leader
Global shortage is changing the way automakers access chip makers
From his small office in Singapore, Kelvin Pang is ready to wager a $23 million payday that the worst of thechip shortageis not over for automakers – at least in China.
Pang has bought 62,000 microcontrollers, chips that help control a range of functions from car engines and transmissions to electric vehicle power systems and charging, which cost the original buyer $23.80 each in Germany.
He's now looking to sell them to auto suppliers in the Chinese tech hub of Shenzhen for $375 apiece. He says he has turned down offers for $100 each, or $6.2 million for the whole bundle, which is small enough to fit in the back seat of a car and is packed for now in a warehouse in Hong Kong.
"The automakers have to eat," Pang told Reuters. "We can afford to wait."
NO QUICK FIX FOR CHIP SHORTAGE: COMMERCE SEC. RAIMONDO
The 58-year-old, who declined to say what he himself had paid for the microcontrollers (MCUs), makes a living trading excess electronics inventory that would otherwise be scrapped, connecting buyers in China with sellers abroad.
The global chip shortage over the past two years - caused by pandemic supply chaos combined with booming demand - has transformed what had been a high-volume, low-margin trade into one with the potential for wealth-spinning deals, he says.
Automotive chip order times remain long around the world, but brokers like Pang and thousands like him are focusing on China, which has become ground zero for a crunch that the rest of the industry is gradually moving beyond.
Globally, new orders are backed up by an average of about a year, according to a Reuters survey of 100 automotive chips produced by the five leading manufacturers.
As the world's leading producer of electric vehicles, the global chip shortage is particularly threatening to China. Pictured: A Nio ES8 electric SUV has its battery changed inside a power station in Hefei, Anhui province, China, on Dec. 14, 2018. (Reuters/Yilei Sun)
To counter the supply squeeze,global automakerslike General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co have moved to secure better access through a playbook that has included negotiating directly with chipmakers, paying more per part and accepting more inventory.
For China though, the outlook is bleaker, according to interviews with more than 20 people involved in the trade from automakers, suppliers and brokers to experts at China's government-affiliated auto research institute CATARC.
Despite being the world's largest producer of cars, and leader in electric vehicles (EVs), China relies almost entirely on chips imported from Europe, the United States and Taiwan. Supply strains have been compounded by a zero-COVID lockdown in auto hub Shanghai that ended last month.
As a result, the shortage is more acute than elsewhere and threatens to curb the nation's EV momentum, according to CATARC, the China Automotive Technology and Research Center. A fledgling domestic chipmaking industry is unlikely to be in a position to cope with demand within the next two to three years, it says.
Pang, for his part, sees China's shortage continuing through 2023 and deems it dangerous to hold inventory after that. The one risk to that view, he says: a sharper economic slowdown that could depress demand earlier.
Forecasts 'Hardly Possible'
Computer chips, or semiconductors, are used in the thousands in every conventional and electric vehicle. They help control everything from deploying airbags and automating emergency braking to entertainment systems and navigation.
The Reuters survey conducted in June took a sample of chips, produced by Infineon, Texas Instruments, NXP, STMicroelectronics and Renesas, which perform a diverse range of functions in cars.
New orders via distributors are on hold for an average lead time of 49 weeks – deep into 2023, according to the analysis, which provides a snapshot of the global shortage though not a regional breakdown. Lead times range from 6 to 198 weeks.
German chipmaker Infineon told Reuters it is "rigorously investing and expanding manufacturing capacities worldwide" but said shortages may last until 2023 for chips outsourced to foundries.
"Since the geopolitical and macroeconomic situation has deteriorated in recent months, reliable assessments regarding the end of the present shortages are hardly possible right now," Infineon said in a statement.
Taiwan chipmaker United Microelectronics Corp told Reuters it has been able to reallocate some capacity to auto chips due to weaker demand in other segments. "On the whole, it is still challenging for us to meet the aggregate demand from customers," the company said.
TrendForce analyst Galen Tseng told Reuters that if auto suppliers needed 100 PMIC chips - which regulate voltage from the battery to more than 100 applications in an average car - they were currently only getting around 80.
Urgently Seeking Chips
The tight supply conditions in China contrast with the improved supply outlook for global automakers. Volkswagen, for example, said in late June it expected chip shortages to ease in the second half of the year.
The chairman of Chinese EV maker Nio, William Li, said last month it was hard to predict which chips would be in short supply. Nio regularly updates its "risky chip list" to avoid shortages of any of the more than 1,000 chips needed to run production.
In late May, Chinese EV maker Xpeng Motors pleaded for chips with an online video featuring a Pokemon toy that had also sold out in China. The bobbing duck-like character waves two signs: "urgently seeking" and "chips."
"As the car supply chain gradually recovers, this video captures our supply-chain team's current condition," Xpeng CEO He Xiaopeng posted on Weibo, saying his company was struggling to secure "cheap chips" needed to build cars.
All Roads Lead to Shenzhen
The scramble for workarounds has led automakers and suppliers to China's main chip trading hub of Shenzhen and the "gray market", brokered supplies legally sold but not authorized by the original manufacturer, according to two people familiar with the trade at a Chinese EV maker and an auto supplier.
The gray market carries risks because chips are sometimes recycled, improperly labeled, or stored in conditions that leave them damaged.
"Brokers are very dangerous," said Masatsune Yamaji, research director at Gartner, adding that their prices were 10 to 20 times higher. "But in the current situation, many chip buyers need to depend on the brokers because the authorized supply chain cannot support the customers, especially the small customers in automotive or industrial electronics."
Pang said many Shenzhen brokers were newcomers drawn by the spike in prices but unfamiliar with the technology they were buying and selling. "They only know the part number. I ask them: Do you know what this does in the car? They have no idea."
While the volume held by brokers is hard to quantify, analysts say it is far from enough to meet demand.
"It's not like all the chips are somewhere hidden and you just need to bring them to the market," said Ondrej Burkacky, senior partner at McKinsey.
When supply normalizes, there may be an asset bubble in the inventories of unsold chips sitting in Shenzhen, analysts and brokers cautioned.
"We can't hold on for too long, but the automakers can't hold on either," Pang said.
China, whereadvanced chip designand manufacturing still lag overseas rivals, is investing to decrease its reliance on foreign chips. But that will not be easy, especially given the stringent requirements for auto-grade chips.
MCUs make up about 30% of the total chip costs in a car, but they are also the hardest category for China to achieve self-sufficiency in, said Li Xudong, senior manager at CATARC, adding that domestic players had only entered the lower end of the market with chips used in air conditioning and seating controls.
"I don't think the problem can be solved in two to three years," CATARC chief engineer Huang Yonghe said in May. "We are relying on other countries, with 95% of the wafers imported."
Chinese EV maker BYD, which has started to design and manufacture IGBT transistor chips, is emerging as a domestic alternative, CATARC's Li said.
CARMAKERS GET INVENTIVE AS GLOBAL CHIP CRISIS BITES
"For a long time, China has seen its inability to be totally independent on chip production as a major security weakness," said Victor Shih, professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego.
With time, China could build a strong domestic industry as it did when it identified battery production as a national priority, Shih added.
"It led to a lot of waste, a lot of failures, but then it also led to two or three giants that now dominate the global market."
Chip shortage threatens to curb China's momentum as EV global leader | Fox Business
Goodbye China's EV dreams 🤣
Debt bombs explode across China: 'Banks can't help but default'
The banking liquidity crisis in China escalated seriously, spreading from bank to bank, from province to province. Now, not only in rural banks in Ha Nam province, depositors in many other provinces, belonging to other banks also suddenly cannot withdraw the money they have deposited... The debt bomb has grown, smoldering for decades. century can't help but explode...
Violence shows Beijing's helplessness in the face of the debt bomb
These days, the commercial banks of Henan province have no more money to pay depositors, they simply forbid Chinese depositors from going to the bank to withdraw money by force. The police force, the police (both plainclothes and uniforms) supporting the bank, the government brutally beating depositors to the astonishment of the whole world.
Such governmental violence and brute-force administrative measures will more or less prop up the process of banking collapse in China. However, such actions show the inability, as has been the corner, of the authorities to deal with the bank liquidity crisis. In other words, they no longer have enough money and financial tools to handle the spreading bank liquidity crisis. Violent and administrative measures show this helplessness very clearly.
Indeed, the banking liquidity crisis is spreading to other provinces and cities, to other commercial banks throughout China.
The debt bomb spread from provinces to provinces
In rural Henan province alone, nearly 100,000 depositors were unable to withdraw their 40 billion yuan (CNY) out of the bank. On July 10, about 3,000 depositors in Henan province were surrounded by police and "unknown" people (suspected to be underground police) while protesting to reclaim their property.
Mainland media revealed that victims of bank deposits appeared in all provinces and cities across the country. Because the deposits are raised through internet advertising, the deposits are designed online, making depositing extremely easy. When banks become insolvent, they simply cut off online service. Depositors are forced to go to Ha Nam to withdraw money. But before entering Ha Nam, the Covid-19 monitoring software was programmed, automatically turning on the "dangerous" and "red alert" mode to force them not to leave the house to withdraw money. Bank of Ha Nam province itself is not open, does not serve direct withdrawal at the counter.
Chinese depositors protested to demand that rural commercial banks in Henan province return their deposits, demanding explanations and dialogue. In the photo, protesters spread banners in front of the Banking and Insurance Administration of Ha Nam province on June 27 (Photo taken from video)
If this were in another country, such a bank would have gone bankrupt overnight. But this is China, where there is no market economy, only the interests of the government and the elites of the Chinese Communist Party are protected by the police system, regardless of the constitution and laws. .
The mainland's Sanlian Life Weekly revealed that the incident could be traced back to April of this year, and that Kaifeng New Oriental Rural Bank could be an insolvent bank, with no money left to pay for the loan. depositors.
The report quoted He Ping, a professor at Renmin University's School of Finance, as saying that the government has a benchmark interest rate on bank deposits and that local banks will charge rates up. within the floating range to attract deposits. But most of the businesses that this bank lends cannot make money in the context of tight consumption, the real estate market collapses, production is strictly blocked because of the "zero Covid" policy.
Not only Ha Nam, the chain of domino defaults began to break down and spread to banks in other provinces. The China Times, a Chinese media outlet, reported that some people who opened accounts at Hainan Industrial and Commercial Bank recently found their accounts were frozen and they were unable to withdraw, transfer or spend money. money.
Securities Daily reported that similar situations have occurred in Beijing, Shandong and in many other provinces. The reporter of this newspaper interviewed the person of the bank who was working to prevent depositors from withdrawing this money, and received the answer: "card service is broken" and that their situation was not related to the crisis. liquidity crisis in rural banks in Ha Nam province.
Spread from small banks to big banks.
Fraud cases broke out at many rural banks in Henan province, causing confidence in Chinese banks to be seriously shaken. Pei Minxin, a professor at Claremont McKenna College, USA, wrote in the Nikkei newspaper on July 17 that the fraud showed that China's debt bomb was about to explode. The professor said investors should prepare for worse days for the Chinese banking industry in the future.
Professor Pei Minxin pointed out that the CCP has been borrowing money since 2009 to stimulate economic growth. Currently, the debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio is as high as 264%. Rural banks in Henan have faced lack of supervision, poor risk management and corruption, while nearly 4,000 small and medium-sized Chinese banks with about $14 trillion in assets have also faced face similar systemic risks.
The article warns that if a large number of small banks fail together, there could be a chain reaction that threatens the stability of the financial industry; their partners and lenders. This chain reaction will especially affect large banks as depositors' confidence in the system has been severely reduced. In addition, small banks often attract deposits through high interest rates. This negatively affects the deposit attraction capacity of large commercial banks. The race in deposit interest rates could cause capital costs to skyrocket, choke the economy's growth, and increase bad debt and liquidity risks of the commercial banking system across China.
In fact, in 2011 - 2012, a similar situation occurred during the bad debt and liquidity crisis of Vietnamese banks. Small, weak, unregulated and unsupervised commercial banks fall into a state of uncontrollable bad debt and illiquidity. They had to race to raise deposit interest rates, which afflicted large commercial banks as well as had disastrous consequences for economic growth in the 2013-2015 period thereafter.
The situation in China is even worse, not only being troubled by the failure of small banks, China's big banks are trapped in debt from their own Belt and Road initiative (BRI).
Large commercial banks provide loans of tens of billions of dollars to poor countries under Beijing's BRI framework; which is a debt trap that China has set up to annex developing economies. Unfortunately, human calculation is not equal to heaven calculation. The global recession leaves borrowers unable to repay their loans, much of their credit portfolios may turn into bad loans; the recent collapse of Sri Lanka. The country bankrupted by Chinese debt is asking China to write off most of its loans.
In the country, large commercial banks are facing an intolerable collapse of the real estate market. Chinese real estate enterprises have defaulted on their $1 trillion overseas debt (corporate bonds issued in USD), according to Bloomberg. This data is also quite consistent with the statistics of Cbonds, 40% of China's USD-issued real estate bonds have defaulted (official or technical), the total market value of foreign-issued corporate bonds of China. China is now $3.122 billion.
So what about the credit debt of domestic real estate enterprises? In the corporate bond debt market alone, the figure in China is $12 trillion. How many of these exploding corporate bonds do commercial banks across China hold?
In addition, the Fed is raising interest rates, the dollar appreciates the highest in several decades. Money is fleeing Beijing, according to the Institute of International Finance. The agency did not give the number of reports it tracks, but confirmed: "money outflows from China at a record level in the first quarter of 2022".
Bankruptcy in China is unstoppable. The extent of the breakdown and its harmful effects are extremely unpredictable.
Default spreads from local government to commercial banks
Along with the chain of defaults of small to large commercial banks across the mainland, local governments in China also face a dire scenario: default on local government bonds. And this bad situation has also become the reason why commercial banks across China go bankrupt faster.
Unlike other economies, local commercial banks are not independent of the government. In essence, local commercial banks are under the direction, as subordinates, of the local government.
In order to have money to invest in infrastructure to follow the growth targets assigned by the central government, local governments freely issue special local government bonds. It is special because under the provisions of the Budget Law of China (2015), local governments have the right to issue bonds for a specific purpose; For example, investment in specific local works, this issue does not need to be accounted for government debt, national debt. A debt that is outside the public debt, outside the national debt accounting system encourages local governments to issue this type of debt instrument freely.
Who buys debt? Local governments require commercial banks to buy debt for them. Where does the government get the money to pay the debt? The government sells land to real estate developers to pay off debt. But when the real estate market collapsed, real estate developers became indebted around the world and lost the ability to sell and pay their debts, and local governments also lost large revenue from land, lost money to pay debt. vouchers to local commercial banks.
Who lost money? Not a local government, not a commercial bank. Depositors all over China lost their money. Victims depositing money in Ha Nam are only the first victims.
For all these reasons, Chinese banks, big or small, are in a state of 'enemy life'; These banks cannot fail to default. The Chinese can't help but lose money. Chaos and violence will continue in China, escalating more and more...
Goodbye Chinese banks 🤣
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