Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Economist...

...which in my experience is late to most macro developments, highlights the crony capitalism and agency risks I have been highlighting on this blog for years. The proverbial cat is out of the bag. I also love the "at least on paper" reference, as the entire world realizes they have been relying on economic and balance sheet figures that are at best "centrally managed" and at worst pure fabrications.

CHINA’S economy has, at least on paper, survived forces that have overwhelmed much of the rest of the world. But the recent round of bank tightening seems, at least indirectly, to be hitting with real force. Slowly, word has spread of Jin Libin, a resident of Inner Mongolia who ran a business empire encompassing supermarkets, mining and transport, who set himself on fire one day in April and burned to death. According to the Global Times, a government-run newspaper, he left private debts of $1.3 billion yuan ($191m) of private loans and another 150m yuan of loans from banks.

Still to be reflected is the impact of his collapse on his lenders, which, the Global Times says, included local banks, pawnshops and guaranty companies that had lent him money. No doubt there were also substantial loans from an impersonal network, a form of credit that is commonly used in China, though not legal. The consequences will not be trivial. Many other explosions driven by the same financial forces that brought down Mr Jin are sure to come.

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