John's Feed
Mar 3, 2014
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Deadly assault brings new kind of risk to China

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By John Foley

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

The shocking knife attack that left at least 33 dead in Kunming railway station brings a new kind of risk to China. Investors’ belief in the relative stability of the People’s Republic has allowed it to weather political purges and border disputes without upsetting asset prices or capital flows. But rising ethnic tension could lead to a damaging recalculation at a fragile time.

Feb 19, 2014
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Fear and loathing in China’s trust industry

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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.

Feb 19, 2014
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Fear and loathing in China’s trust industry

Photo

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.

Feb 13, 2014
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Alibaba tests the limits of non-bank banking

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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.

Jan 30, 2014
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ICBC takes slow-burn approach to global expansion

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By John Foley

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

ICBC’s purchase of Standard Bank’s UK trading division has moved at a glacial pace, and gives rivals little to fear. That’s the best sign that China’s largest lender knows what it’s doing.

Jan 27, 2014
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China falls prey to its own capital magnetism

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By John Foley

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

Capital is flooding into China, and central bankers are worried. It’s easy to see why: such problems aren’t supposed to happen in countries with strict capital controls. But China’s monetary magnetism is of the authorities’ own making. In trying to slow reckless lending growth, planners have created a huge arbitrage opportunity.

Jan 23, 2014
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Audit spat pokes hole in China’s financial edifice

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By John Foley

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

China’s legal grey areas have been a source of enormous wealth for investors. Now a U.S. judge is threatening to poke a hole in the entire edifice. The Chinese units of the world’s biggest four auditors face a six-month suspension from auditing U.S.-listed companies after the judge decided they wilfully refused to hand over documents on Chinese clients to U.S. regulators. It’s hard to fault his logic, but upholding the rules could bring a huge cost.

Jan 21, 2014
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China’s growth slower but no more believable

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By John Foley

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

China’s GDP growth may be getting more sustainable, but it’s no more believable. The country’s 31 provinces are on course to report aggregate nominal GDP far in excess of the total central figure for 2013 – and not for the first time. Big numbers are getting less reliable, which strengthens the case for new ones.

Jan 17, 2014
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China trust default is least painful option

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By John Foley

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

Much about China’s financial system is fuzzy, particularly when it comes to so-called trust companies. But when push comes to shove the case for letting an investment product fail is pretty clear.

Jan 14, 2014
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Coal typifies China’s reform: it’s hard and dirty

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By John Foley 

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

Coal is much like China’s reform challenge: hard and dirty. Even as politicians fret about the country’s chronic smog, they approved 100 million tonnes of new mining capacity in 2013, six times the amount for the previous year. That will add to the 300 million tonnes or so already due to come on stream in 2014. The habit is proving difficult to kick.