New data showing a surge in the debt run up by regional and local governments (RLGs) in the mainland is worrying ratings agency Moody's. "The credit-negative rise in debt leaves RLGs more exposed to the effects of China's slowing economy and the related weakening in revenues, against the backdrop of falling land sales," is the typically clinical way the agency describes it in a new report. Less clinically, RLG debt surged by more than a third between June 2013 and December 2014, the two official data points being compared. It now tops 24 trillion yuan (HK$29.3 trillion), some 38 per cent of economic output. Direct debts of RLGs soared 41 per cent and comes as revenue from land sales - the traditional RLG cash cow - plunged 38 per cent year on year. That's a combination no creditor, or ratings agency, likes to see.