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Reuters blog archive

from Anatole Kaletsky:

The case against a Chinese financial crisis

A severe slowdown in China is viewed as among the greatest risks facing the world economy this year, and Thursday’s dismal news on Chinese manufacturing output exacerbated these fears. But the really important news from Beijing pointed in the opposite direction: Bank lending in China, instead of slowing dramatically as many economists had expected, accelerated in January to its fastest growth in four years.

This means China is unlikely to act as a brake on the global economy in the months ahead -- despite the recent weak manufacturing figures. It also suggests that predictions of a credit crunch or financial crisis in China will likely prove wrong -- or at least premature.

To welcome stronger bank lending in China is not to deny that credit growing at double the gross domestic product growth is unsustainable and will ultimately have to be curbed. The Chinese authorities themselves clearly believe this. The government and the central bank want to reduce credit growth and to replace the unregulated, opaque “shadow lending” system with properly supervised, well-capitalized modern banks.

The government has two other economic objectives, however, that it sees as equally or more important.

from Breakingviews:

Fear and loathing in China’s trust industry

By John Foley

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

China’s trust sector is the financial system’s enfant terrible. It’s a 10.9 trillion yuan ($1.8 trillion) industry built on taking short-term funding and channeling it into longer-term investments. That mismatch has already led some trust products to unravel, and more will follow. What causes concern isn’t so much trusts failing as them being foolishly rescued.

from Breakingviews:

China copper IPO seeks gold in financial recycling

By Una Galani

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist.  The opinions expressed are her own.

Financial recycling is putting a gold polish on the initial public offering of a Chinese copper company. Just 15 months after it quit the New York Stock Exchange, China Metal Resources Utilization is set to go public in Hong Kong at 10 times its last market value. It’s the first of a large group of unloved stocks to perform the “Chinese flip”, exploiting the valuation gap between U.S. and Hong Kong exchanges.

from Breakingviews:

From soccer pitch, lessons on Chinese tycoon risks

By Una Galani

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Chinese investors are setting their sights on trophy assets in the West, and soccer teams look like fair game. The case of English football club Birmingham City, whose main shareholder and former president just sold a stake to an obscure Chinese company, offers a cautionary tale. Big personalities make risky shareholders, but China brings extra anxieties.

from Breakingviews:

Alibaba tests the limits of non-bank banking

By John Foley

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Alibaba isn’t a bank. But for customers it’s getting hard to tell the difference. Users of China’s dominant e-commerce website can now deposit funds, make investments, take out loans and even give out gifts of virtual cash. In taking on China’s lenders, Alibaba and its online rivals may be taking on bank-like risk.

from Breakingviews:

Alibaba tests the limits of non-bank banking

By John Foley

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Alibaba isn’t a bank. But for customers it’s getting hard to tell the difference. Users of China’s dominant e-commerce website can now deposit funds, make investments, take out loans and even give out gifts of virtual cash. In taking on China’s lenders, Alibaba and its online rivals may be taking on bank-like risk.

from Ian Bremmer:

Is the China-Japan relationship ‘at its worst’?

At the Munich Security Conference last month, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying said the China-Japan relationship is “at its worst.” But that’s not the most colorful statement explaining, and contributing to, China-Japan tensions of late.

At Davos, a member of the Chinese delegation referred to Shinzo Abe and Kim Jong Un as “troublemakers,” lumping the Japanese prime minister together with the volatile young leader of a regime shunned by the international community. Abe, in turn, painted China as militaristic and overly aggressive, explaining how -- like Germany and Britain on the cusp of World War One -- China and Japan are economically integrated, but strategically divorced. Even J.K. Rowling has played her part in recent weeks, with China’s and Japan’s ambassadors to Britain each referring to the other country as a villain from Harry Potter.

from Breakingviews:

Alibaba’s $1.6 bln map deal fuels online land grab

By Robyn Mak and John Foley 

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Alibaba’s purchase of AutoNavi is a land-grab, in two senses. The Chinese e-commerce group has offered a premium price to buy out the 72 percent of the U.S.-listed mapping company it doesn’t already own, valuing the whole thing at $1.6 billion. There’s a compelling competitive reason for Alibaba to get deeper into online maps, but what’s hard to locate is the financial rationale.

from Breakingviews:

China’s “biggests” come early, late or not at all

By Ethan Bilby and John Foley
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

China collects superlatives. In 2013, it added biggest goods trader, top red wine consumer and number one oil importer. Some “biggests” are a sign of investment potential, but others suggest inequality and inefficiency. Meanwhile, some of the most meaningful, like having the world’s dominant currency, still look a long way off.

from Global Investing:

Reforms changing the yin-yang of investing in China? – PODCAST

China's influence on emerging markets, let alone the global economy, cannot be understated. Great strides have been made to build the economy over the past 30 years, but not without its casualties. In a conversation with Michelle Gibley, director of international research at Charles Schwab, I asked her about a new research paper she's published on why, amid the angst and doubt on emerging markets, she has shifted her views. She's turned positive on Chinese large-cap stocks and says the China of the past was running out of gas.

Click here to the interview. (My thanks to Freddie Joyner for helping get the audio into workable shape.)

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