Updated Dec. 5, 2023 3:59 am ET
China is trying to defuse a financial time bomb that could severely damage its banking system.
Cities and provinces across the country have accumulated a massive amount of hidden debt following years of unchecked borrowing and spending. The International Monetary Fund and Wall Street banks estimate that the total outstanding off-balance-sheet government debt is around $7 trillion to $11 trillion. That includes corporate bonds issued by thousands of so-called local-government financing vehicles, which borrowed money to build roads, bridges and other infrastructure, or to fund other expenditures.