If anyone's been paying attention to the news lately, they'll know that China has been in a heap of trouble. Its stock market is wobbly, people aren't sure whether its growth projections are accurate, corporations are carrying loads of debt, and the list of issues goes on.
To Eric Lascelles, chief economist at RBC Global Asset Management, what's happening in China presents the biggest risk to world markets and, more specifically, its debt issues.
This year the country's corporate debt levels hit 160 percent of GDP, which is twice as high as America's corporate debt levels, while Standard & Poor's estimates that China's corporate debt will climb by 77 percent, to $28.8 trillion, over the next five years.
Much of that debt has been concentrated in the country's booming housing market, said Lascelles, and while the government is helping out local governments and companies, non-performing loans on Chinese banks have grown by 57 percent over the last year, he said.
It's still a low base—only 1.5 percent of loans aren't being paid, he said—but those growth rates are rising. If this does become a larger problem, then economic growth could slow even further, which, with China being the second-largest economy in the world representing about 16 percent of global GDP, would have an impact on all of us, Lascelles explained.