Demonstrators march against the CETA trade deal near the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France on Feb.15, 2017. Globalization has not been kind to incomes of most of the middle class in developed world economies. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)Demonstrators march against the CETA trade deal near the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France on Feb.15, 2017. Globalization has not been kind to incomes of most of the middle class in developed world economies. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

MONTREAL—Geopolitical risk is running high despite all seeming well with U.S. stock markets, but evaluating broader trends, which include “de-globalization” and China’s economic transition on asset prices and inflation, is critical at this time.

Volatility—the degree of fear in the market that can be measured by the VIX (S&P 500 volatility)—is extremely low. Meanwhile an elevated level of policy-related economic uncertainty prevails; investors have little confidence that impending government actions will work.

“It’s a little bit spooky how disengaged the two have been to each other,” said Lisa Emsbo-Mattingly, Fidelity Investment’s global asset allocation director of research, at the International Economic Forum of the Americas on June 12.

While it seems the world is heading for a period of synchronized economic growth, geopolitics—or non-market factors—such as aging populations and rising inequality remain headwinds.

Diversification has always been critical for investors to smooth market ups and downs on a path to achieving financial goals. In times of market stress, asset prices tend to move together (increased correlation) and it becomes costly to change a portfolio’s investment mix due to greater costs for buying and selling (worse liquidity).

Domestic Focus

With globalization having distributed economic growth toward emerging and frontier markets, the U.S. hegemony has been eroded, said Marko Papic, senior vice president of Geopolitical Strategy at BCA Research, a 68-year-old Montreal-based independent investment firm.

“We know from history, when more countries get to say and pursue what they want, it is a less stable world,” Papic said. “Today we have the highest number of conflicts going on at the same time.”

China has its eye on filling the void left by the United States as the post-Cold War order crumbles. Under Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the United States can no longer be a reliable partner.

Knowing what’s going on in China now is more important than ever.

— Paul Podolsky, partner, Bridgewater Associates

And Canada intends to play a bigger role on the international stage, based on recent comments from Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.

“We worry that East Asia will be the powder keg of the 21st century,” Papic said. Chinese and American economic symbiosis is tenuous at best.

In a more multi-polar world, Papic argues that it will be smaller and medium-sized businesses that will benefit relative to the large multinationals that prospered as globalization took hold.

“Any economy, sector, or particular stock that derives most of its final demand from within the jurisdiction in which it is domiciled will be the [investment] theme of the next 15 to 20 years,” Papic said.

The China Factor

“Swings in the global economy come from the swings in China’s economy,” said Paul Podolsky, a partner at hedge fund Bridgewater Associates.

China’s boom came from its cheap cost of plentiful labor; however, that’s less true today than it used to be. Its more recent rapid buildup of debt has propped up the world economy.

The issue is that plenty of economies—Canada, South Africa, Australia, Brazil—depend on China’s continuing to operate a credit-driven economic model. However, if the Chinese authorities are able to pull off the difficult transition away from a debt-fuelled investment model toward a domestic consumption model, it will be painful for emerging markets and commodity-driven economies. But China will benefit in the long run.

“Their domestic economy, that really needs to be resolved before they start thinking about global domination,” Papic said about China, whose 19th communist party congress takes place in the fall.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) revised its forecast for Chinese GDP to grow 6.7 percent in 2017. This is up from a prior estimate of 6.6 percent. Chinese credit growth slowed in May under the tighter supervision of policy-makers.

We worry that East Asia will be the powder keg of the 21st century.

— Marko Papic, senior vice president, Geopolitical Strategy, BCA Research

“Knowing what’s going on in China now is more important than ever,” Podolsky said. He added that the short-term prognosis for China looks good—at least the rapid debt buildup is denominated in its own currency, of which more can be printed.

Specter of Inflation

As globalization grew, production moved to cheaper sources of labor—China and emerging markets. Among the reasons the populist wave rose is the failure of globalization to boost incomes for the middle class in developed world nations like the United States and United Kingdom.

Canada’s finance minister, Bill Morneau, has targeted helping the middle class in his two budgets. “We need to deal with the sense of anxiety people are facing,” he said in discussing the rejection of the status quo seen by the Brexit vote, Donald Trump’s election, and the Liberals returning to power in Canada in 2015.

As the global economy moves away from peak globalization, an upside risk for inflation develops. If free movement of capital and labor is restricted, supply is more costly to produce, resulting in higher prices.

“Our view is that we are exiting a deflationary period and entering an inflationary one slowly but surely,” Papic said. “And then gold will realize its role as a safe haven.”

U.S. stock markets have been in a “Goldilocks” scenario, supported by low interest rates, low inflation, good corporate earnings, and a low threat of an imminent recession.

“I would not say there’s a lot of complacency in the market. The VIX is reflecting a very exuberant market,” Emsbo-Mattingly said, adding that the recovery emanated from a Chinese recovery, which has been good for cyclical stocks globally.

“My concern is we’re at peak valuations, peak growth. A lot of things are as good as they’re going to get,” Emsbo-Mattingly said.

Follow Rahul on Twitter @RV_ETBiz

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Last time around, the love affair with China and the virtual currency Bitcoin didn’t end well. In December of 2013, the Chinese central bank barred financial companies from having anything to do with Bitcoin and the price crashed from $1095 to $105.
However, this love has been rekindled as the virtual currency quietly rose from $200 in August 2015 to $525 now.
“It went down for many reasons in 2014, the most important one was that it was too high. These days Chinese activity is driving the ascent in the price of Bitcoin. There is not a lot of other factors going on right now,” says Gil Luria head of technology research at Wedbush Securities.
If you are willing to get capital out of China badly, then you are willing to take the risk. — Gil Luria, Wedbush Securities

Coincidently, Bitcoin reached its bottom just after the surprise devaluation of the Chinese yuan against the dollar and about the time ordinary Chinese started to move money out of the country in earnest. Some of it leaves China via Bitcoin.
“In countries … that struggle with high inflation and capital controls you see a move toward bitcoin,” Tuur Demeester, editor in chief at Adamant Research, said in an interview with RealVisionTV.
Safe Haven?
The Chinese economy is struggling and the banking system is loaded with bad debt.
Demeester likens the recent rise in Bitcoin to what happened in Cyprus in 2013 when Bitcoin first became mainstream news. As the banks in Cyprus closed down, the virtual currency rose from $15 to over $230 in the span of a couple of months.
Price of Bitcoin against the U.S. Dollar (Coindesk)
“The price was going nowhere for the last two years, but in the past year, we have seen these trends. Back in 2013, Cyprus was the reason why Bitcoin spiked in April 2013. Bitcoin survived but the money that was in the bank didn’t,” Demeester says.
Bitcoin during the Cyprus banking crisis (Coindesk)
That may be the reason why Chinese are willing to pay hefty premiums to buy Bitcoin to get rid of the risk of holding bank deposits in yuan.
For example: The price of one bitcoin in yuan on June 1 was 3608. This is equivalent to $548. But the dollar price of Bitcoin was only $525, a 4.4 percent premium.
In addition, even if the objective is to get rid of yuan, there are violent price moves even in U.S. dollars, like during the 2014 crash. So an ordinary Chinese citizen is paying up and taking a lot of price risk just to get rid of the Chinese currency.
The amount of money that can be transacted via Bitcoin is unlimited.

“If you are willing to get capital out of China badly, then you are willing to take the risk,” says Luria.
Since there are no transaction costs for shifting from yuan into Bitcoin and from Bitcoin into dollar, it means traders think the Chinese currency is at least 4.4 percent overvalued compared to the U.S. dollar. 
“Even though 60 percent of the new supply of bitcoin comes out of China, despite that you have these positive spreads on Chinese exchanges,” says Demeester.
The amount of money that can be transacted via Bitcoin is unlimited—at least in theory—as Bitcoin is not part of the limitation on overseas money transfers and investment opportunities.  
“You can take Bitcoin out to anywhere in the world and that’s a way to get capital out of China,” says Luria.
Chinese can open overseas bank accounts while traveling and then exchange their bitcoins for foreign currency in their new bank accounts. Direct transfers to overseas bank accounts are limited, but this roundabout way is not.
While the price moves and discrepancies are exciting, but the total amount of Bitcoin in circulation ($8.3 billion) is tiny compared to the Chinese banking system ($35 trillion) and even compared to the total amount of capital that left China in 2015 ($676 billion).
We cannot ignore the revolutionary changes it brought to the financial sector. , Cyberspace Administration of China

However, China is the world leader in Bitcoin mining (the mathematical process through which new bitcoins are created) as well as Bitcoin trading. Chinese Bitcoin exchanges account for as much as 92 percent of global volumes (around $22.5 billion during the last 30 days).
Bitcoin Ban
So didn’t China ban Bitcoin at the end of 2013? And why did the price crash so much?
In short, the answer is no, China did not ban Bitcoin. China barred financial companies (including the big, non-bank payment providers like Alibaba’s Alipay) to deal with Bitcoin. It did not ban Bitcoin exchanges like Huobi or the transfer of bank deposits in exchange for bitcoins.
“The Chinese government [was] highly worried that, if the banks and Alipay connect directly to the Bitcoin infrastructure, the banks or Alipay will do something really stupid and the government will have to bail them out,” Joseph Wang of Bitquant wrote in a blogpost.
So there was a good reason for the steep price decline after the Chinese added this regulation. By prohibiting big payment companies like Alipay to use the virtual currency, China ensured that Bitcoin would not become the currency of choice for sales of goods and services, especially in its booming online market.  
“Merchant fees in China are lower than in the West and platforms such as Alipay and WeChat or Tenpay dominate the mobile and non-bank payment market,” writes Coindesk’s Aiga Gosh.
Using Bitcoin for real live transactions is an important driver of demand for the virtual currency. If this factor of demand is removed, the price must fall, although the Cyberspace Administration of China has recently used softer tones when talking about the currency in October of 2015:
“Although some people think that Bitcoin and its underlying technology, the Blockchain, is not stable, we cannot ignore the revolutionary changes it brought to the financial sector. The new technology has led to the expansion of a distributed payment and settlement mechanism, which will innovate financial transactions.”
(Wall Street Journal)
 
Pure Speculation
So using Bitcoin as a payment for goods and services in China has been removed from the equation,

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Recently, Chinese have been associated with getting their money out of the country because of the weak economy and a possible debt crisis.
Those who are not getting their money out by buying Vancouver real estate or Italian soccer clubs have found another solution to the economic uncertainty: Gold ETFs.
The Chinese segment of this almost 2000 ton global market is tiny (20 tons), but those holdings doubled in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the first quarter of 2015, according to a report by the World Gold Council.
(World Gold Council)
The most popular Chinese Gold-backed ETF (Huaan Yifu Gold) increased its holdings by almost 30 percent to 13.5 tons in the first quarter compared to the end of 2015.
Globally, gold ETFs increased their holdings by 364 tons, the highest number since the first quarter of 2009 contributing the most to gold’s strongest first quarter of the year on record. Total demand was 1290 tons, up 21 percent compared to the same period in the year before.
“The noxious atmosphere of uncertainty created by global monetary policies and shifting expectations for U.S. interest rate rises were cause for concern. Investors sought the safety of gold,” the report states.
(World Gold Council)
The report also mentions the threat of a Chinese devaluation caused the spike in gold demand. Being at the epicenter of these worries, Chinese also loaded up on physical gold and increased their purchases 23 percent compared to the end of 2015. They bought 62 tons.
“I think many Chinese understand if they buy gold in China with renminbi, they are also hedged against such a devaluation, so there is no need for normal Chinese to use gold and bring it out of the country when they made their money in an honest way,” says Willem Middelkoop, author of “The Big Reset.”
Another reflection of this shift in consumer sentiment in China is the fact demand for gold jewelry actually decreased 4 percent over the quarter and 17 percent over the year (216 tons to 179 tons). 
The Chinese central bank, while defending its currency against massive capital outflows has also continued to load up on gold.
“Russia and China–the two largest purchasers last year–continue to accumulate significant quantities of gold,” states the report. China added 35.1 in the first quarter and it looks like the made a good investment. Gold outperformed all other asset classes in the first quarter:
(World Gold Council)

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By now most people have realized that China is, one, addicted to debt and, two, its debt addiction is not sustainable.
Any country investing around 50 percent of GDP in infrastructure and productive assets over a decade or so will run into overcapacity problems. Overcapacity simply means there is infrastructure and factories to make things, but nobody is consuming them.
No, or not enough consumption means no cash flow and if the projects are debt-financed this creates a payment problem.  
It is impossible to avoid deterioration in the efficiency of credit allocation with the pace of debt growth that China has seen. — Wei Yao, Société Générale

China fans—until recently—have brushed this argument aside saying that the country is growing very fast and will one day be able to use this infrastructure. Furthermore, the totalitarian communist regime could always bail out everybody.
(IIF)
There are still some people who believe China will escape its 300-350 percent debt to GDP load and decreasing debt efficiency without much of a crisis.
This optimistic scenario is unlikely to happen according to Société Générale’s chief China economist Wei Yao. She thinks China has to restructure one way or another and presents some more realistic albeit unpleasant outcomes.
(Société Générale)
“It is impossible to avoid deterioration in the efficiency of credit allocation with the pace of debt growth that China has seen. In our view, the reason that China has so far avoided a banking crisis is because it remains a relatively closed system,” writes Yao.
SOE SOS
The main problem, according to Yao, are the State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), which have the most debt (127 percent debt to GDP), worst profitability (3.4 percent of GDP), and worst return on assets (smaller than 2 percent). More than a quarter of the industrial SOEs are consistently loss-making.
Total losses in the banking sector could reach $1.2 trillion, equivalent to more than 60 percent of commercial banks’ capital, 50 percent of fiscal revenues and 12 percent of GDP. — Wei Yao, Société Générale

Given their track record, Société Générale estimates about 18 percent of SOE debt could go bad, leading to total losses of around $800 billion. Losses to the Chinese banking system because state banks own most of SOE loans and bonds.
The Communist Party ultimately controls the whole banking system either outright or through the state organs. And it’s CCP officials who benefit most from corruption. “The bankers, whose primary allegiance is to the Party rather than to their institutions, still have little choice but to support local government projects,” Mark DeWeaver wrote in his book “Animal Spirits With Chinese Characteristics.”
(Société Générale)
So Société Générale thinks that”all in all, SOE debt restructuring could jeopardize 50 percent or more of the banks’ capital base, which—if it materializes quickly—would almost certainly knock China’s banking sector into a systemic crisis.”
While these words may sound shocking to the uninitiated, it is nothing we haven’t seen before. China had to bail out SOEs and banks in the late 1990s when 30 to 50 percent of all debt went bad.
In the late 1990s, the government completely bailed out the SOEs and the banks, but this is unlikely to happen again.

So bailing out the SOEs will also involve bailing out the banks as well. Nobody likes bail-outs, but Société Générale has some suggestions how to minimize the damage.
First, the so-called “zombie companies” should be closed down systematically and the debt written off. Given the magnitude of the bad loans, however, the banks cannot shoulder that cost alone, a cost which is going to be higher than just the bad SOE debt.
Because of some knock on effects and some private sector problems, “total losses in the banking sector could reach $1.2 trillion, equivalent to more than 60 percent of commercial banks’ capital, 50 percent of fiscal revenues and 12 percent of GDP.”
Restructuring Options
In the late 1990s, the government completely bailed out the SOEs and the banks, but this is unlikely to happen again.
“Previously, the government—also the sole shareholder of China’s banking sector at the time—picked up the lion’s share of the bill, and it received significant help from solid economic growth in the 2000s. This time, not only will that same split be hard to achieve—and it should not be replicated—but future economic growth will not be as helpful either,” writes Yao.
Aside from forcing banks to exchange bad debt for an equity stake in the troubled company, which is a short-term fix, banks will have to use up their existing capital base and also raise new money from private investors.
The central government would then issue new bonds (currently only 15 percent of debt to GDP are in the form of government bonds) to the tune of 10 percent of GDP.
The bottom line is that the government bail-out program could be designed in a way to greatly limit its impacts on currency and capital account stability. — Wei Yao, Société Générale

“The new [bond] supply would be equivalent to 3-9 percent of GDP, 12-35 percent of fiscal revenues and 20-60 percent of outstanding [bonds]. In addition to bank recapitalization, the government would have to provide fiscal support to address unemployment pain and other social effects. The total fiscal bill would probably be considerably more than 10 percent of GDP.”
The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) could play a role by either doing Quantitative Easing (QE) and buying up some of the bond supply or by using up its foreign exchange reserves to make up for the banking losses. It would have to because the Chinese bond market is not liquid enough to just double in size within the space of a year or so. 
Both options are not without problems, however, as QE would put further pressure on the already brittle currency whereas the selling of foreign exchange reserves would put deflationary pressure on the already deflating manufacturing economy.  
In the best case scenario, those two factors could offset each other.
“The bottom line is that the government bail-out program could be designed in a way to greatly limit its impacts on currency and capital account stability. Such designs seem

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Western idealists often portray China as a country that “can get things done,” be it investment in infrastructure or the expansion of renewable energy. What they often fail to ask is whether the done things will actually be useful.
This week, China announced it will increase total wind power capacity by 22 percent to 139 gigawatts (gw). This is right on track to achieve its ambitious target of 200 gw by 2020.
As a comparison, the United States has 74 gw installed at the end of 2015 and no ambitious plan to boost it to 200 anytime soon.  
China’s wind farms are under-performing— Michael Davidson, TheEnergyCollective

The main difference: The United States actually uses most of the installed capacity and China doesn’t.
“Comparing to the United States, which consistently has an edge in terms of utilization of its wind turbines, China’s wind farms are under-performing,” writes Michael Davidson at The EnergyCollective.
On the surface, there are two major problems which lead to windmills being built but not being used.
No Connection
The first reason is that they are not connected to the national power grid. According to Michael Davidson’s latest estimates, as much as 20 percent of total wind capacity wasn’t connected to the power grid in 2012, although there have been improvements since.
China has also indicated it will build more high power transition lines to transport the energy from the wind-rich but population poor region of North Eastern China to the energy consumption heavy population centers on the coast.
According to the China Wind Power Review and Outlook, installed capacity in three North-Eastern regions accounted for 50 percent of total installed capacity as of 2014, but those regions only consume 10 percent of the nation’s electricity.
(TheEnergyCollective)
“The electricity cannot be consumed locally and transmission is needed to send the wind electricity to the load centers in the east,” states the report. Some of the farms probably never will.
Until the wind energy can actually be transported to where it’s needed, the windmills will not only stand idle, but also be blasted by sand 24/7 because the North Easter regions not only have a lot of wind, but also a lot of sand.
In 2010, then vice minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology Miao Wei said China should not build too many wind farms because the equipment will inevitably be damaged by the sand, according to the Beijing Times.
This wasteful investment is a direct result a completely warped incentive system

Too Much Power
But it gets worse. Even if the wind farms are connected to a grid, the grid operators didn’t use or “curtailed” as much as 20 percent of wind energy production in 2011 because they had to use energy from coal power plants instead.
“Grid operators make decisions a day ahead on which thermal plants to turn on, so if wind is significantly higher than forecasted 24 hours before, the difference may be curtailed to maintain grid stability,” writes Davidson.
(TheEnergyCollective)
MORE:The Cheapest Way to Scale Up Wind and Solar Energy? High-Tech Power LinesChina Wants a Massive Solar-Powered Space Laser
This wasteful investment is a direct result of a completely warped incentive system on the central and local government level, writes Mark DeWeaver in his book “Animal Spirits With Chinese Characteristics.”
“As the [central government] targets are for capacity rather than annual production, an incentive was created to build in the windiest locations regardless of their proximity to the existing transmission network or the economic feasibility of installing new power lines,” he writes.
Because local governments compete against each other on the capacity targets they went to work and built the capacity irrespective of economic feasibility. Even former vice minister Miao Wei said Chinese wind farms are mostly image projects with the sole purpose of making the local official look good.

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China’s “national team,” which was organized by the authorities and endowed with billions in cash to save the stock market following last year’s crash, pledged that the rescue operation would extend into the next few years. However, reports published by a number of listed companies have revealed that it has been staging a silent retreat.
This has led to an uproar from battered investors, who demanded greater disclosure of information by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC). Investor confidence has also fallen to a new low.
Turbulence in China’s A-share market has continued in 2016 following the crash. The Shanghai index has suffered a cumulative fall of some 18 percent since the beginning of the year.
On Aug 14 last year, the CSRC issued a public announcement that stated, “In the coming few years, the China Securities Finance Corporation (CSFC) will not retreat from the market, and its role to stabilize the market will remain unchanged.”
It also declared that the CSFC would enter into an agreement with Central Huijin Investment Ltd. so that the latter could become a long-term investor in the stocks concerned.
However, Xu Caiyuan, a 38-year-old professional investor who became famous in Wenzhou for protecting investor rights, said that the national team is quietly retreating from the market. He said their selling activities might have exacerbated the recent fall in the market and provided him with new evidence for suing the CSRC.
The CSRC and the CSFC, a key member of the national team, have remained tight-lipped on the rescue operations thus far.
Shareholdings decrease
Reports published by A-share listed companies for the last quarter of 2015 revealed that as of March 3, the national team is no longer on the top 10 stockholders lists of no less than 30 listed companies. According to some reports, these included four non-bank financial companies, including Shaanxi International Trust Co. Ltd. and Chengdu Honqi Chain Co. Ltd.
Shareholdings have also decreased in Anxin Trust Co. Ltd. (by 14.5 million shares), Everbright Securities (53 million shares), and China Merchant Securities (6.75 million shares).
Xu expects that more companies will meet with the same fate. He pointed out that in this market crash, he suffered the biggest blow in his 18 years of investment experience.
Many of his friends also lost big fortunes, some amounting to hundreds of millions of yuan, he said. Those who had engaged in margin trading are now heavily in debt.It is a man-made disaster, not an act of God.— Xu Caiyuan, a professional investor

CSRC sued
Xu said that flaws in the system were the main culprit of the crash.
“It is a man-made disaster, not an act of God,” he said.
“High-ranking officials should exercise prudence in what they say and should not put on the hat of a stock commentator,” he added, quoting former CSRC chairman Xiao Gang’s “reform bull theory,” which claims that despite poor market performance, the abundance of liquidity will buoy the stock market.
Xu accused Xiao of seriously misleading investors, deliberately covering the systemic risks, and committing a serious administration offence.
In January 2016, the CSRC introduced the “dual circuit breaker mechanism” in the stock market but quickly called a halt to it soon after its launch. Xu has therefore filed a lawsuit against CSRC for a number of crimes, including malpractice and failure to take proper actions.
He also said that Xiao, the disgraced chairman, should be held accountable. Xiao was forced to step down last month. The lawsuit was accepted by the Beijing Higher People’s Court after being rejected by a lower court, and the hearing will begin on March 17.
Economic coup?
China expert Shi Cangshan said that the market crash was in fact engineered by the Jiang faction of the Chinese Communist Party, which wanted to bring down Party leader Xi Jinping.
Family members of former Party leader Jiang Zemin and his supporters Zeng Qinghong and Liu Yunshan were said to be involved.
To counteract this it was reported that Xi has kick-started a full-scale investigation of corruption within the financial sector. CSRC former chairman Xiao Gang, CSRC vice chairman Yao Gang, chairman’s assistant Zhang Yujun, and many other officials have been investigated for insider trading.
Eleven high-ranking officials of the CSFC were also investigated for “suspected involvement in illegal securities trading,” including Liu Yunshan’s son Liu Lefei, vice-chairman of the board of directors.Lack of integrity of the communist government in handling the market crash has completely wiped out public confidence.— Cheung Chi-wai, joint director of Prudential Brokerage

Majority shareholders sell
Market sentiment was further dampened as majority shareholders in the A-markets started dumping their shareholdings.
On March 8, seven listed companies, including Chixia Development, Bank of Nanjing, Changbai Mountain Tourism, Kangqiang Electronics, Kunbaida A, Coollion, and Yizumi issued public announcements of reduction in their shareholding. Prior to this, similar plans were announced by Boya Biological, Hualian Holdings, and Wing Real Estate.
Amongst these majority shareholders, Nanjing Gaoke was the most aggressive and disposed of no more than 20 million shares of Chixia Development and 30 million shares of Bank of Nanjing at the prices of no less than 6 yuan (approx. US$0.93) and 15 yuan (US$2.32) per share respectively.
According to the regulations issued by the CSRC in January, majority shareholders cannot dispose of more than 1 percent of the listed company’s total number of shares through competitive bidding over a 3-month period. Nanjing Gaoke’s sell-off has almost reached this upper limit.
According to another regulation issued by the CSRC on Jan 7, controlling shareholders and shareholders holding 5 percent or above of shares of listed companies are not allowed to dispose of more than 1 percent of the company’s total number of shares through competitive bidding within any 3-month period.
In recent months, such shareholders of Kangqiang Electronics, East Energy and Zhejiang Nanyang Technology have all reduced their shareholdings of these companies to less than 5 percent. Market analysts pointed out that such moves suggested that they might plan to dispose of all their shares in these companies in future.
Flaws in China’s market
China’s stock market is basically policy-led and has always been criticized for lacking transparency. Its latest crash has sent shock waves

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It’s the debt, stupid. This is what professor Steve Keen of London’s Kingston University has been saying all along: Private debt is responsible for financial crises. He’s also been saying that conventional economists are wrong, and even wrote a book about it: “Debunking Economics.”
Apart from his razorsharp logic and witty style, Keen was one of the few analysts who predicted the financial crisis in the West in 2008. Now he sees another crisis looming in the East.
Epoch Times spoke to Steve Keen about why private debt is again responsible for China’s economic problems and why the debt fueling China’s stock market is the most ridiculous thing ever.
A private person can’t direct the central bank to pay that debt.

Epoch Times: How did China avoid the financial crisis of 2008?
Steve Keen: The crisis in 2008 destroyed their export policies. There was a 45 percent fall in Chinese exports in one year.
The response at that time was to dramatically boost private lending, trying to cause a boom domestically, to take the place of exports which they have relied on. So you had an enormous increase in private debt in China.
Professor Steve Keen, an unconventional economist. (Steve Keen)
Epoch Times: Some people say that doesn’t matter because in China the debtors are mostly related to the government.
Prof. Keen: It’s state-owned banks and state-directed banks that lent to private institutions. The liabilities are private. State-owned banks have loaned to private companies. Almost all of the increase in debt is to private organizations, and almost all of that has gone to Chinese property developments.
It’s not like the debt in the West where private banks lend to private organizations. What matters is: Who owes the money. It’s still owed by private individuals and companies. If they can’t pay, they are bankrupt and they want to run away and get out of their liabilities. This is going to cause the usual downturn in the economy, even though the debt is owned by state-owned banks.
It comes down to who the liabilities are owed by. If the federal government has a debt, it can direct the central bank to pay that debt. A private person can’t direct the central bank to pay that debt.
Total demand will fall, and that’s the situation we find in China now.

Epoch Times: Give us some numbers please.
Prof. Keen: Seven years ago private debt was about 120 percent of GDP, according to the Bank of International Settlements (BIS). Now it’s 201 percent. The American level peaked at 170 percent before the financial crisis.
The level of demand coming into the economy is relying on continually increasing that debt ratio. But once you reach a peak level of debt, people will not be borrowing beyond that point. The change in debt goes from 20 percent growth to zero. As a result, 20 percent of GDP disappears.
(Macquarie)
Epoch Times: Please explain how that works.
Prof. Keen: Total demand in the economy is demand generated from existing money plus the change in debt. Let’s say GDP is running at a trillion and debt increases 20 percent then total demand is $1.2 trillion dollars in year one.
So GDP is growing at let’s say 10 percent. So next year’s GDP is $1.1 trillion, but if the change in debt goes to zero, total demand will fall from $1.2 trillion to $1.1 trillion. So even if GDP keeps growing at the same rate—which won’t happen—total demand will fall, and that’s the situation we find in China now. That affects all asset markets.
This is an unbelievable bubble.

Epoch Times: What about debt and the Chinese stock market?
Prof. Keen: I have never seen anything quite as ridiculous as margin debt in China. The level of leverage per asset market is crazy. The Shanghai Composite Index had a bubble and a crash in 2008, but there was no margin debt after that crash.
It continued down until June 2014, then it took off and hit a peak of about 5100. What had happened in the meantime, they had deregulated and allowed margin debt to be brought in 2010.
The level of margin debt began in march 2010 at 0.00014 percent of China’s GDP. You fast-forward to 2014, it was 0.3 percent of GDP. In July of 2014, it was 0.5 percent of GDP, by 2015 it was 1 percent of GDP, by July 2015 it was 2.16 percent of GDP. It has since fallen to .84 percent of GDP. This is an unbelievable bubble.
It’s the most volatile level of margin debt anywhere in the world—ever. So you have got this insane level of debt finance and speculation at the same time.
Epoch Times: What can the Chinese do?
Prof. Keen: The property market was the original way to boost demand in the Chinese economy. That has come to an end; the share market has come to an end. So you have this enormous hole in demand.
The 20 percent in debt growth per year was all financing the building boom, suddenly that’s over. All those workers are losing their jobs, and they are going back to the countryside.
There is not going to be demand for new housing in China for 10 years. For example: China is still a major buyer of Australian concrete. A huge part they are buying they can’t use it anymore. So it has been used by China as foreign aid in Africa.
A big part of the political shifts we are seeing are reactions to the slowdown and they are desperately trying to soften the slowdown and that’s where all the crazy policy choices are coming from out of the Politburo.
Most of the infrastructure projects, they can’t keep on doing. The only thing that’s needed is to replace coal with solar. They have huge excess capacity, there is no new export market to go into anymore, and they can’t boost domestically.

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It is the most successful currency manager in the world. No, we are not talking about the Federal Reserve, we are talking about the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).
It has kept the Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) pegged to the U.S. Dollar for almost 33 years now with barely any volatility, trading in a band of HK$ 7.75 to HK$ 7.85 per U.S. dollar. In the last 10 years, it only violated the band once to the downside in 2003 because of the SARS epidemic.
(Citigroup)
Now the Chinese yuan is in trouble, both on the mainland and offshore, and there is speculation the Hong Kong Dollar will follow down the road of devaluation. On Jan. 14, the HKD dropped 0.28 percent against the dollar, to HK$ 7.781. It was the biggest loss since October of 2003
(Bloomberg)
After Beijing took control over the city from the United Kingdom in 1997, Hong Kong became ever more dependent on the mainland. For example, a lot of debt expansion in Hong Kong went to the mainland for projects that are now less than economic.
Investors question the asset quality in the Hong Kong banking system and are selling off the currency. The HKMA’s system of managing the HKD has been very robust in the past, the question is whether it can withstand an economic crisis on the mainland.
(Hong Kong Monetary Authority)
If there is downside pressure on the currency, the HKMA doesn’t just sell dollars to prop up the HKD, like the Chinese central bank has been doing with the onshore renminbi. It takes a more indirect, but much more effective route. Instead of selling foreign exchange, it contracts the supply of HKD available on the market, leading to higher interest rates.
With higher rates and fewer HKD around, the market simply cannot sell as many HKD to depress the exchange rate further. Because this mechanism is automatic, the market has no room for speculation. It knows what to expect.
The HKMA put it this way in 1997: “The central bank may sell foreign exchange to stabilize the exchange rate for a time, but there is nothing to prevent it from issuing more notes or increasing the money supply in other ways. High interest rates not accompanied by a contraction in money supply also lack credibility. Thus, under this regime, it is indeed true that no foreign reserve is large enough to withstand persistent speculation.”
This automatic mechanism is responsible for the record spike in interest rates last weekend. Money flowed out of Hong Kong, the money supply contracted automatically and interest rates went up.
Because Hong Kong is a flexible and open economy, in the past it was able to adapt relatively easily to changes in the money supply essentially dictated by U.S. monetary policy.
With the mainland facing an economic crisis and capital flowing out of China and Hong Kong, this flexibility will be put to the test.
 

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Even before the work week starts properly on Monday morning on the East coast, the bad news from China are already flowing in Sunday evening because of the time difference.
This time, the Shanghai Composite is down another 5 percent to 3017 on Jan. 11, minus 15 percent for the year. On the upside, the yuan is only down 0.1 percent against the dollar and its little brother, the offshore yuan (mostly traded in Hong Kong) is up 1.2 percent to 6.60 per U.S. dollar.
Of course, it wouldn’t be China if the regime hadn’t intervened heavily in both markets. For the stock market, all it could do was to prevent it from dropping more by buying stocks without caring for the losses.
And the losses for the regime are substantial. Goldman Sachs estimates the regime bought stocks worth 1.8 trillion yuan ($270 billion) from June to November of 2015 to prop up the stock market after the July crash.
(Goldman Sachs)
The so called “national team” spent the money in vain, as prices approach the August bottom of 2927 for the Shanghai Composite.
As for the currency, and especially the offshore yuan (down 2.3 percent for the year already), the Chinese central bank made it go up on Monday, but it also paid a heavy price for it.
Overnight interbank lending rates in Hong Kong went up a ridiculous 9.39 percentage points to 13.4 annualized on Monday, a sign that the interventions on the currency market are draining liquidity from the interbank market. This is the highest rate on record.
The movement in the currency and the interbank lending rates is a perfect example of how putting out one fire stirs up another, a problem the regime finds impossible to manage since the shock devaluation of last August.
The offshore yuan (the ticker is CNH and there are about $230 billion of them) sit around as deposits on the balance sheet of private banks, mostly in Hong Kong.
When the Chinese central bank buys up these deposits and hands out dollars in exchange, these deposits are no longer available for private use not even for private banks. They are now locked up on the central bank’s balance sheet.
So if a bank now needs offshore yuan, there are now fewer of them sloshing around in the market. Because there are so few of them to begin with ($230 billion is really nothing compared to the size of the euro or the Japanese yen foreign exchange markets) the market is very sensitive to changes in liquidity and banks have to pay a high interest rate to get the offshore yuan funding they need.
The same is true for the domestic stock market. When the People’s Bank of China sells dollars and buys yuan in the market, those yuan aren’t available for private use anymore, like for investing in the stock market. As a result of the intervention, the stock market—and everything else for that matter—goes down.
The only solution to the problem of the impossible trinity: Let the currency go free.

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NEW YORK—Tumult in China triggered the worst opening week for U.S. stocks in history, and this week investors could get plenty more to worry about.
Profits are expected to drop at U.S. companies.
Again.
Earnings for companies in the Standard and Poor’s 500 index are forecast to drop for the second straight quarter, a rare occurrence outside a recession. Despite a rebounding jobs market, the United States did not grow fast enough to boost profits, and once surging developing economies that helped lift foreign sales slowed dramatically.
Despite a rebounding jobs market, the U.S. did not grow fast enough to boost profits, and once surging developing economies that helped lift foreign sales slowed dramatically.

All this would be worrisome enough at any time, but investors are particularly jittery now. U.S. stocks are expensive by some measures, even after slipping in 2015 and falling sharply in the first week of the year. That leaves little room for more disappointing news.
One widely respected gauge, the so-called Shiller earnings ratio, is flashing warning signs. Named after Nobel Prize winner Robert Shiller of Yale, the ratio compares the price of stocks to annual earnings averaged over 10 years. The measure is now 25, much higher—meaning more expensive—than the long term average of 18.
“When expectations are as high as they are, that’s a problem,” says Jack Ablin, chief investment officer of BMO Private Bank.
When expectations are as high as they are, that’s a problem.— Jack Ablin, chief investment officer, BMO Private Bank

Companies begin reporting their results for the October-December quarter on Monday. Earnings per share for the companies in S&P 500 is expected to have dropped 5.5 percent compared to a year earlier, according to S&P Capital IQ, a research firm. That follows a 1.4 percent drop in the July-September quarter. Revenues are forecast to fall for a fourth quarter in row.
This wasn’t supposed to happen.
A year ago the average view of financial analysts who follow the stock market said earnings for the October-December quarter would jump 12 percent, and urged investors to buy accordingly.
MORE:Outlook for 2016: Middle-Class Woes, Hopeful on Wages, the Fear FactorThe World Wary as US Federal Reserve Declares End to Debt CrisisBusiness Group Hopes to Jumpstart Momentum for Trade Pact
Analysts on Wall Street are a notoriously bullish bunch, but you can almost understand their enthusiasm. Since the financial crisis, U.S. companies have managed to squeeze profits out of a slow-growing domestic economy. They slashed costs, often through massive layoffs, and restructured their businesses to operate faster and smarter.
They were also helped by surging sales abroad, super-low borrowing rates thanks to Federal Reserve policy, and a controversial maneuver: Companies bought trillions of dollars of their own shares to take them off the market. Investors love the maneuver, because it spreads earnings over fewer shares and boosts earnings per share. But critics point out that the purchases can make companies seem more successful than they actually are.
The result of all this corporate scrambling, shrewd or short-sighted, was a booming stock market. The S&P 500 more than tripled from its 12-year low in 2009 through its peak in May. Even after last week’s drop, its biggest since September 2011, the index is just 6.5 percent below that level.
MORE:World Bank Downgrades Global Economic Forecast for 2016Equity Investing in 2016: Bull Market Still Has LegsUS Employers Hire at Blistering Pace, Defying Global Trends
The problem now is that it is difficult for Corporate America to cut costs any more, and the rest of the world is slowing and can’t help out. Japan, the world’s third largest economy, barely grew last year, Canada briefly dipped into recession and Brazil and Russia are struggling to escape ones. On Wednesday, the World Bank lowered its forecast for global economic growth this year to a feeble 2.9 percent.
The good news is that some parts of the U.S. economy are doing well. U.S. households have cut debt and saved more since the financial crisis. The housing market is solid. And there are more jobs. On Friday, the Labor Department reported that employers added 292,000 workers in December, capping a robust year of hiring.
MORE:Jim Rickards on China: ‘They Don’t Know Anything About Capital Markets’Meet the Market: China Suffers Triple Blow
But after years of sub-par economic growth, many economists are skeptical the U.S. economy, and corporate results, are about to take off.
“It’s going to be harder and harder to produce solid earnings, unless the global economy picks up,” says Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial.
It’s going to be harder and harder to produce solid earnings, unless the global economy picks up.— Peter Cardillo, chief market economist, First Standard Financial

Most worrisome is that China is slowing dramatically, though no one is sure how much because the data is so unreliable. The official statistics put the rate at nearly 7 percent, a third slower than five years ago. But experts tracking electricity usage and other measures say the rate may be much worse, perhaps 4 percent or even lower.
“Mystery meat,” is how famed bond investor Bill Gross characterized China on CNBC on Thursday after the country’s main stock index plunged seven percent.
MORE:These Events Show How China Reacts to a Market CrisisBank of America Says China Passed ‘Point of No Return’
China matters because it is the world’s second largest economy after the United States. It accounts for just a fraction of U.S. exports, but it’s impact on the economy is big because it is a major buyer of goods from Japan, Europe, and other big U.S. trading partners. About half the sales in the S&P 500 come from abroad.
James A. Abate, chief investment officer at Centre Asset Management, is impressed with how the biggest U.S. companies restructured their operations in the face of slow economic growth in the past few years. But when it comes to increasing profits, even he thinks they have run out of tricks.
“The vast majority of companies depend on an accelerating economy,” he says. “The downside to profits still has a long way to run.”

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China allowed the world to catch a breath on Friday. Chinese stocks rose 2 percent and the central bank fixed the currency a tad higher. Global stocks are more or less unchanged.
After a week of complete market chaos, this is a welcome break, but won’t change anything in the long-term says James Rickards, author of “Currency Wars” and “The Death of Money.”
“The Chinese are communists and they don’t know anything about capital markets. Putting communists in charge of capital markets is like giving a loaded gun to a three-year old,” he told Canadian broadcaster CBC.
He says their biggest mistake was to shock the world by devaluing their currency last August. “You never shock the system, you always let people know what’s coming,” he said. At that time, the move came as a complete surprise and shook the world’s belief in Chinese central planning.
(Macquarie)
Since then, the Chinese authorities have learnt their lesson-although a bit late-and are sending signals the currency has further to drop.
According to Reuters, the central bank stated on its website on Friday, Jan. 8.
“The central bank also said it would make the yuan more international, keep the currency basically stable, further improve the currency formation mechanism and deepen reforms of the foreign exchange management system and financial institutions.”
Translated, this means the yuan will depreciate further against the dollar. China has a restricted set of choices, according to the law of the impossible trinity:
1. Have an open capital account2. Have independent monetary policy3. Have a stable exchange rate
At any given time, only two are possible and Rickards says China will chose an independent monetary policy and an open capital account, similar to most developed markets. “They have to devalue the currency. They are not going to close the capital account, there is too much pressure from the International Monetary Fund. They are not going to give up independent monetary policy. They are not going to raise rates to stop the capital outflows, so they have to devalue the currency,” he said.
As for the transition to a consumer economy, Rickards thinks it will take longer than people expect.
“I am not so sure the demand is there. There are a lot of Chinese people, but their income distribution is widely skewed. They have a sort of middle class of 200 million people out of a population of 1.2 billion, but those people are practically eating bark of the trees, they are pretty poor,” he said.
“Those who do have some money, a lot of them sank the money into overvalued assets like real estate and stocks, so they are taking a beating. This transition to the consumer driven economy, we are talking something that will play out over 5 or 10 years, it is not going to rescue the situation today. China’s growth has hit an air pocket, it is going to go down a lot.”

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If you want to have a functioning market, you have to stick with it in good times and bad. China never really let the market rule in good times, but at least it could pretend it had invented its own brand of state-controlled capitalism.
Now that things are going from bad to worse, China still doesn’t want a 100 percent market. The problem is, it has liberalized the stock market and the exchange rate enough for Mr. Market to get a foot in the door.
While the New Year started badly with a 7 percent stock crash on Jan. 4 and a currency meltdown on Jan. 6, Mr. Market burst through the central planning door on Jan. 7.
Stocks Crash Again
Thursday, Jan. 7, will go down as the shortest trading session in Chinese history—it lasted less than 30 minutes with the Shanghai Composite Index down more than 7 percent at 3,125 at the end of trading. Why so short? Did traders want to take the rest of the day off in preparation for Chinese New Year?
No, they were scared that so-called circuit breakers would halt trading before they could complete all of their sell orders. Ironically, this fear caused a flood of sell orders, which pushed prices so low that the circuits broke and trading shut down for the day.
The circuit breaker kicks in when there’s a 5 percent rise or fall on the main share index and automatically halts trading for 15 minutes; a shift of 7 percent triggers trading to stop for the day.
“If today you have this break, tomorrow everybody will want to run away as soon as possible,” said Yao Yang, professor at the China Center for Economic Research, at a panel discussion in New York on Thursday.
The Chinese stock exchange only installed this system in December after the lessons of the summer of 2015 stock market crash. It thought it would make investors more rational and prevent excessive sell-offs. It did the opposite.
Or in the words of Macquarie research analysts: “Efforts to control the market and enforce an arbitrary pricing floor have had less-than-ideal consequences.” An understatement if there ever was one.
If there is anybody due for an early holiday, it’s David Cui and his analysts at Bank of America. They predicted the Shanghai Composite to drop 27 percent over the year—it’s already halfway there in just the first week of January.
 
(Bloomberg)
China Sells Record Amount of Reserves in December
According to official figures released Jan.7, China had to sell a record $108 billion in foreign exchange reserves (FER) in December, bringing the total for the year to $513 billion. China now has $3.3 trillion left.
But why sell in the first place? According to professor Lu Feng of Peking University, “China is at the trough of its cyclical adjustment” and will keep growing at around 7 percent. He seems to be one of the few people left to believe this.
Chinese people are voting with their money, and they are voting the current system out of office. According to Epoch Times estimates, as much as $1.2 trillion of capital left China in 2015. Throughout the year, China sold U.S. dollars to prevent the currency from crashing.
After the IMF admitted China to its international reserve currency basket in November, the People’s Bank of China let the yuan drop slowly throughout December. Observers, including this publication, then thought China made the smart choice of letting the currency drop and at least keep its stash of reserves.
(Macquarie)
The fact that China had to sell a record amount of FER and depreciate the currency, means that the PBOC is losing control. According to Macquarie, the yuan will drop at least another 5 percent against the dollar and this gradual devaluation will cost the PBOC at least $400 billion in 2016.
“Further devaluation is not good for the United States and is not in the interest of China. China wants to maintain a reasonably strong currency,” says Yao Yang. But maybe Mr. Market has a different idea.
Biggest Devaluation Since August
Mr. Market forced the PBOC to set the fixing for the currency 0.5 percent lower on Jan. 7, the biggest drop since the shock-devaluation of August 2015.
The yuan is down 1.85 percent against the dollar during 30 days of record intervention. If this trend continues for 2016, we are looking at a 20 percent devaluation, not 5 percent.
The dollar rose almost 2 percent against the yuan over the past month. (Google Finance)
Because after all, the currency works like the stock market, only without a circuit breaker. The market knows the central bank is going to let the currency drift lower, and traders are following the classic rule of “who sells first, sells best,” leading to precisely the panic selling that the PBOC wants to avoid.
At which price will traders decide to turn around and buy again? This, only Mr. Market knows.

Read the full article here

China is probably looking forward to the new year. A fresh start on Feb. 8, putting all the currency chaos behind.
This may well remain wishful thinking, as events are going from bad to worse—and Jan. 6 is no exception.
The Chinese yuan fell 0.6 percent—this is a lot for a big currency—to 6.55, the lowest level since March 2011. Traders dumped the yuan after China’s central bank fixed its value 0.22 percent lower, another official devaluation.
China first devalued the yuan in August of 2015 and then intervened with great force in the market to keep its value relatively stable, spending $255 billion of its foreign currency reserves by the end of November.
China’s foreign exchange reserves as of Nov. 30, 2015. (Bloomberg)
After the International Monetary Fund included China in its basket of reserve currencies in November as well, Beijing reduced the reserve burn and let the currency drift down gradually.
Beijing also gave the market a fair warning, as it said it would index the value of the yuan against a basket of currencies, not just the U.S. dollar.
The yuan’s value in U.S. dollars dropped in 2015, but it rose against the trade-weighted basket. This gives Beijing justification to further devalue against the dollar.
(Capital Economics)
“China is going to have to dramatically devalue its currency,” Kyle Bass, principal at Hayman Capital Management LLC., told Wall Street Week. He thinks the devaluation could be as much as 20 percent.

So investors took heed and are getting out of the yuan as fast as they can. After all, why stick around to lose money in a falling currency. The problem: This herd behavior leads to, you guess it, a falling yuan. 
And while Chinese regulators can stop them from wantonly selling the mainland currency (CNY) because of capital controls, nobody is stopping them from selling the freely traded offshore yuan (CNH), mostly traded in Hong Kong
READ about China’s two different currencies here
The CNH dropped 1.1 percent against the dollar, trading as low as 6.70, the lowest since September 2010. The spread between the mainland and the offshore currency also widened to a record 2.5 percent.
(Bloomberg)
Capital Outflows
Behind the move in the currencies is the tectonic shift in capital flows. Up until 2014, China attracted capital, driving the exchange up. Now capital is moving out, driving the exchange rate down.
“You’ve gone from a period which you had this one-way bet—the currency was going to appreciate, capital inflows—to the reverse. Having a period in which your own residents want to diversify into something else,” says Harvard professor Carmen Reinhart.
She thinks China is facing “a significant internal debt crisis,” which is why domestic citizens and international investors are moving their money out.
READ Carmen Reinhart on China’s Debt Crisis
“You do have a shift in capital flows and in fact, that shift has also accelerated purchases of real estate in London, in Boston, in New York. You see that it’s not just Treasurys. We see that from China and we see that from Russia,” she says.
Bloomberg estimates as much as $367 billion of capital left China in last three months of 2015. Epoch Times previously estimated capital outflows of $850 billion in the first nine months of 2015, so the total could be more than $1.2 trillion, the same as Societe Generale’s worst case estimate. 
China’s big trade surplus is the reason it didn’t have to sell more foreign exchange reserves to keep the currency from collapsing. 
Why Devalue
There is nothing China can do against the capital flows per se, expect for completely reforming its economy.
It can intervene in the markets by selling its foreign currency reserves to stop the exchange rate from collapsing. For the onshore yuan, it can also enforce capital controls more strictly, which it has done, but that goes against the promised reforms. 
However, given only bad choices, managing a gradual devaluation in the offshore and onshore yuan is actually the best of the worst.
Past currency crises, like the British pound devaluation in 1992, the Asian financial crisis in 1997, and the recent Ruble crash, show the value of the currencies will always drop to its equilibrium level—no matter how much a country spends intervening in the market.

So if the currency has to drop, China can at least keep its large stash of foreign currency reserves, although cynics may then ask what good are they for after all. 
“The foreign exchange reserves are just that: they are foreign. They are not renminbi [RMB]; they are not money that can be brought to bear domestically,” says Fraser Howie, author of “Red Capitalism.”
A lower currency on the other hand will support the country’s export sector, which, thanks to rising land and labor costs, is not as competitive as it used to be. Kyle Bass thinks a devaluation will help China “come back to some level of competitiveness with the rest of the world.”
It needs to compete not to generate growth, as many think. Although the Beijing Academy of Sciences just estimated GDP will only grow 6.7 percent in 2016 (below the official target of 7 percent)—it is employment and public sentiment that matters most to the regime.
The export sector still contributes around 10 percent to total employment.
Gordon Chang, author of “The Coming Collapse of China” says: “Where you have people just sick and fed up, especially when the system is no longer delivering prosperity. When you have real serious economic problems, I think people are going to say, ‘I’ve had enough.’”
Until then, the yuan has a lot further to drop.

Read the full article here

Western commentators complain that China’s 7 percent stock crash on Jan.4 is a  dreadful start to the new year.
Well, technically speaking, the Chinese still can hope their new year is going to be better than the old one, as it only starts on February 8.
Until then, it looks like it’s going to be downhill for the economy, stocks, and the yuan.
The Shanghai composite slipped 6.9 percent to 3296 on Jan. 4, triggering circuit breakers. The onshore yuan dropped 0.37 percent against the dollar.
(Google Finance)
 
Official GDP numbers come out on Jan. 19 but whatever the official number, it real growth won’t be good judging from data on the ground.  
Market commentators blame recent weak manufacturing data and new IPOs but analysts knew all of this beforehand.
In fact, if you look at any data coming out of China, whether it’s official or unofficial, all of it is pointing south. 
Research Firm Capital Economics compiled a chart book of important indicators for the Chinese economy based on official data, showing firmly established downtrends.
The currency will devalue further against the dollar because it has actually gotten stronger in trade weighted terms  in 2015 and that’s what China cares about.
This is the only reason why China launched a trade weighted index for the yuan, so it has a justification to devalue further against the dollar. 
(Capital Economics)
Official GDP growth slowed to 6.9 percent in the third quarter of 2015, but Capital Economic’s own activity proxy indicates growth of only 4 percent.
Electricity consumption, one of the best economic indicators is not growing at all. 
(Capital Economics)
Retail sales are still growing at 10 percent, but retail is not a large share of the economy and growth fell from a peak of almost 20 percent right after the financial crisis.
(Capital Economics)
Trade has collapsed, firmly trending down.
(Capital Economics)
Producer and commodity prices are deep in deflationary territory. Capital Economics is optimistic this will change soon though.
(Capital Economics)
Credit is still growing, but also trending down. Also, the ratio of output per unit of credit decreased dramatically over the years.
(Capital Economics)
Knowing all this, how can traders be surprised by weak manufacturing data? Hope dies last. 
 

Read the full article here

To its credit, China actually implemented a couple reforms this year. Does this mean, it will let markets rule? Most likely not. Because when push comes to shove, China will stop reform and subdue market forces.
Case in point: The central bank and regulators now micromanage the foreign exchange market and have suspended at least three foreign banks from foreign exchange trading until March 2016, according to Reuters.
They also asked banks to disclose names of clients with the intent of stopping state owned enterprises from buying foreign currency.
“They are worried about falling foreign exchange reserves. The yuan faces obvious depreciation pressure as the Fed (U.S. Federal Reserve) may continue to raise interest rates, so policymakers are concerned and intend to take effective measures to respond,” a senior economist at a think-tank linked to China’s Cabinet told Reuters.
(Twitter)
Massive capital outflows have pushed the onshore and the offshore yuan down to levels not seen since 2011. Some people in China’s regime might welcome this move, as it could boost exports and prevent mass unemployment.
“Capital flows depends on China’s economic fundamentals; we shouldn’t worry too much about short-term capital outflows if we are confident about our economic fundamentals. The direction of capital account reforms will not change,” a government policy advisor told Reuters.
Some others want to micromanage it, fearing outflows may spiral out of control and hurt the country’s economist stability. Because of the economic law of the impossible trinity, China can’t have a stable currency, independent monetary policy, and a free capital account at the same time.
For now, it seems policy makers sacrifice the free capital account—originally on the reform agenda—for a stable exchange rate.
MORE:Was 2015 a Historic Turning Point for the Chinese Economy?
In November, “Red Capitalism” author Fraser Howie said China hasn’t really been tested with regards to letting market forces play out in the foreign exchange market.
“You don’t simply have a free trading currency just because you say so. How is China going to respond in times of crisis?”
Judging from the reaction of Chinese authorities to the continued drop of the yuan, we now have a crisis and we also now know how the authorities respond.    

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