The Financial Times reports China’s largest bank, ICBC, announced its intentions to get into the banking business in the US. That move actually makes sense. Politicians already started making waves about China owning a good chunk of the US through its government debt (an idiotic rhetoric, but it is a topic for a different discussion).
The Chinese are thinking instead of making loans to the US government and getting paid a barebones rate. Why not help the US consumer to get further into debt and make a juicy profit in the process? Good thinking.
The best part is that politicians will have a hard time blocking the Chinese foray into banking (though they’ll try). If the US blocks the Chinese entry into US banking, China is likely to reciprocate (I would not blame them) and thus American banks’ grandiose ambitions to drown 1.2 billion Chinese in credit card debt will be crashed.
I doubt that you’ll see ICBC branches around the corner anytime soon, but I think the acquisition of a large US bank would make a lot more sense – you get instant scale, American know-how, and you can self finance much higher yielding consumer loans from trade surplus. Call me crazy, but that is what I would do.