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Qingdao probe the ‘straw on the camel’s back’ for world markets

The blog’s new Research Note in the ‘Your Compass on China’ series highlights the way that China’s commodity imports have been used to finance its housing bubble.  This is clearly a shock for investors, who have till now believed the imports were a sign of its superior economic policies and long-term growth prospects. The Qingdao probe could […]

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China’s commodity imports have financed its property bubble

Today, the blog launches a major new Research Note in the ‘Your Compass on China’ series, produced in association with leading Hong Kong-based financial advisory firm Polarwide. Titled ‘Here today and gone tomorrow – a simple guide to China’s world of trade finance’, it is probably the single most important paper it will publish all […]

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Index Jun14

Financial market melt-up takes S&P 500 to new record

A year ago, the blog suggested that financial markets were reaching their most dangerous ‘melt-up’ stage, driven by investor complacency about the ability of central banks to protect them from any downturn.  This analysis was confirmed in November, when absurdly high prices were paid for works of modern art, smashing previous records. Gillian Tett of the Financial Times (another of […]

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China map a

Prime Beijing house prices drop 40% since December

China’s property market is the epicentre of the global debt bubble discussed yesterday.  It has been red-hot since urban residents became free to buy their own home in 1998.  Before then, they lived where the state told them.  With interest rates held low to boost state-funded infrastructure spending, people had few options for investing their money. The […]

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RingOfFire Jun14

Central banks have created a debt-fuelled ‘ring of fire’

A new article by an IMF economist makes the point that in April 2008, not a single one of the mainstream economic forecasts covered by ‘Consensus Economics’ was forecasting a recession in 2009. The IMF itself expected growth to continue, as did the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development.  Even by […]

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Another ‘Minsky Moment’ beckons for US stock markets

The West has been living with cheap money from the central banks for over 5 years.  Credit has been very easy to obtain in the financial sector, and interest rates have been at all-time lows.  The result can be seen in the chart above from Business Insider of total lending to fund stock purchases on the New […]

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China’s president highlights ‘new normal’ of economic growth

China’s President Xi Jinping became the first world leader to highlight the move into a “new normal” at the weekend: “China is still in a significant period of strategic opportunity. We must boost our confidence, adapt to the new normal condition based on the characteristics of China’s economic growth in the current phase and stay cool-minded” “Through […]

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China’s PE imports jump 26% as credit bubble peaks

Strange things are happening in China’s polyethylene (PE) market, as the chart shows: Imports suddenly jumped 26% in Q1 (red column) versus last year (green) This would be an extraordinary amount at any time, but especially now with the economy slowing It comes at a time when China’s own production continued to increase, up 8% As a result, […]

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Ageing populations create repayment risk for government bonds

Government bonds in the larger, wealthy countries of the West have traditionally been regarded as being “risk-free”.  Most countries have failed to pay their debts at some time in the past, but it hasn’t happened in the post-War period for the major economies, and so investors have forgotten this can happen. This situation may well change […]

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High-frequency traders pay $millions to be legal highwaymen

In olden days, highwaymen would hang around stagecoach inns, waiting to see when wealthy people were travelling.  Then they would hide out along their likely route, getting wet and cold, in order to take their cash. Today the arrival of electronic trading has changed all this.  High-Frequency Traders (HFT) now have computer programmes to act as their lookouts, […]

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