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Sep 26, 2014
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World should steel for peak China demand

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By John Foley

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

Markets should steel for peak China demand. Consumption of the metal in the People’s Republic fell for the first time this century in August, an industry official said on Sept. 25. If the decline proves anything more than temporary, it could throw global markets off kilter.

Sep 23, 2014
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China rich list misses most valuable asset: status

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By John Foley 

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

What’s the most precious asset for China’s plutocrats? Not diamonds, or prime real estate, or even a stake in a richly valued internet company. The currency that really matters is status. That’s something rankings like the new Hurun Report of China’s richest individuals struggle to measure.

Sep 18, 2014
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China has not one property problem, but many

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By John Foley 

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

China’s real estate market is big enough that it can have not one property problem but many. A Breakingviews ranking of the forty biggest cities, according to different kinds of risks, shows there are huge differences between local markets. It’s not much consolation, though. A conflagration of regional problems could be just as bad as one big national one.

Sep 17, 2014
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China stealth stimulus may slip down back of sofa

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By John Foley 

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

As China’s economy slows, its authorities must think ever faster. A 500 billion yuan ($81 billion) injection of central bank funds into the country’s biggest five lenders – reported by online media group Sina on Sept. 17 – is unusual and symbolic. But in figurative terms it may just slip down the back of the sofa.

Sep 15, 2014
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China data divides real and economic worlds

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By John Foley 

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

China’s economic data, even when as miserable as the numbers released on Sept. 13, makes little difference to ordinary people. That may explain an apparent lack of urgency from China’s central planners to respond to what looks like a dramatic slowdown. Yet it is naïve to think that the real and economic worlds can stay separate.

Sep 11, 2014
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Likonomics: the China buzzword that wasn’t

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By John Foley 

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

A year ago, then-new Chinese Premier Li Keqiang looked like a champion of market forces. Now he seems a bit like a passenger. Capitalistic reforms, and foreign investors, have moved down the pecking order.

Sep 4, 2014
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China’s consumers show early signs of a debt wish

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By John Foley

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

It’s a truism that Chinese people don’t like to borrow – but one that may no longer be true. China hasn’t gorged on consumer lending in the way that U.S. shoppers did, but rising credit card activity shows their traditional aversion to debt is fading fast.

Sep 3, 2014
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Tianhe fraud claims hit at China free-rider effect

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By John Foley

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

Fraud allegations and China are seemingly inseparable. Tianhe Chemicals, an industrial group that listed in Hong Kong less than three months ago, is under fire from a group alleging it cooked its books. This challenges not just the company’s integrity, but investors’ belief that when big names have pored over an initial public offering, they don’t have to.

Aug 15, 2014
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Alibaba deal spree turns from romance to thriller

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By John Foley 

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

Alibaba’s investment story has turned from romance to thriller. Its Hong Kong movie-making affiliate has uncovered “possibly non-compliant” accounting just four months after the Chinese e-commerce giant bought a 60 percent stake. It’s not clear whether Alibaba’s controls were flawed – but it certainly raises questions about the value of the company’s recent investment binge.

Aug 14, 2014
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China data puts economists to the Rorschach test

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By John Foley 

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

Is China’s economy stable or stuttering? Swings in credit and investment reflected in data released on Aug. 13 support conflicting views. Broadly, things look on track. But uncertainty can be damaging if it undermines the confidence of the people who matter most: consumers and depositors.