China's central bank has devised calibrated reserve ratios for different banks to tighten curbs on bank lending and tame quickening inflation, Chinese media said on Monday.
Instead of setting a traditional annual loan target that has proven to be inadequate, the People's Bank of China plans to hold monthly reviews to decide the amount of cash that lenders must lock up with the central bank, official newspapers reported.
In doing so, the central bank hopes to drain China's economy of a surfeit of money that drove inflation to a 28-month high of 5.1 percent in November.
A Chinese language magazine said the central bank has given banks a formula to calculate their reserve requirement ratios, and told lenders to submit their estimated loan growth for this year, based on their 2010 third-quarter capital ratios.
The central bank has fixed the parameter for selective reserve ratios, the New Century Weekly reported, paraphrasing several senior executives at major banks as saying.
Major Chinese banks are likely to face tougher lending restrictions, with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China , China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China, and Bank of China being ranked by authorities as the top four banks, the report said.
China's central bank has repeatedly said in recent months it wants to tailor-make reserve ratio targets for banks to refine lending curbs.
But it has not explained how calibrated reserve requirements would work, or how they would relate to the present official reserve requirement, which stands at a record 19.5 percent for the biggest banks after a 50-basis-point rise on Friday.
China's traditional method of controlling bank lending through an annual loan target has proven ineffective as targets are often busted -- banks lent 7.9 trillion last year, well above the 7.5 trillion target.
Bank executives were quoted as saying that if regulators do not toughen lending restrictions, Chinese banks may lend as much as 1.5 trillion yuan ($227.7 billion) in January alone, or about a fifth of what they lent in the whole of 2010.
Guo Qingping, an assistant governor at the central bank, reiterated over the weekend that authorities were working on ways to improve management of credit and controls over bank lending, according to a statement published on its website ($1=6.587 Yuan)