Opinion

George Chen

Will Beijing be Italy’s White Knight?

George Chen
Jul 13, 2011 03:54 UTC

By George Chen
The opinions expressed are the author’s own.

Let’s talk about Italy.

Italy is about art — Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti and more names. Italy is about luxury — Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo and more brands. Italy is also about food.

But, right now, Italy is about debt — huge national debt that is putting the entire eurozone or even the rest of the world into market panic. So, who’s going to rescue Italy?

Perhaps Chinese investors. They are focused on Italy these days because the deepening debt crisis there has become a negative external factor dragging down the benchmark Hang Seng Index for two straight trading sessions. At the beginning, people were not fully aware of the situation, as some thought Italy could not be Greece.

After all, Italy is the No.3 economy in the euro zone. How can Italy be in crisis? If Italy is in trouble, what about the rest of Europe? Yesterday, I moderated an online forum where a former Trade Commissioner for the Italian government spoke. Mr. Romeo Orlandi, an old China hand, who’s now teaching globalisation at the University of Bologna in Italy, said Italy was “too big to fail”.

The European Union may find it difficult to work with the current Italian government given political dramas related to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the highly complex domestic politics in Italy, but one likely scenario is that Italy should survive from the growing debt crisis in Europe if Beijing decides to step in to help.

Japan, in danger and opportunity

George Chen
Mar 14, 2011 03:41 UTC

earthquake

By George Chen
The opinions expressed are the author’s own.

You might consider yourself very smart, powerful or perhaps wealthy, but after watching live coverage on TV of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan on Friday afternoon, what was your reaction? We’re all nobodies in the face of the forces of nature.

On Friday afternoon before the earthquake, the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index showed unexpected signs of recovery but the rebound was unfortunately short-lived. Immediately following the news alert about Japan’s worst earthquake in decades, stock markets from Hong Kong to Shanghai all retreated quickly.

This was a very natural reaction to such a massive natural disaster. Almost the same reaction was seen after the earthquake in China’s Sichuan province in May 2008. When investors feel uncertain and then the market sentiment becomes anxious, they sell. Fair enough – who really is in the mood to trade after seeing such a horrible event?

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