No, not that Carlyle. And not that Buffett. Welcome to the alternate universe of Chinese finance.

A Chinese investment firm going by the name of Carlyle has accused the investment adviser to a fund known as the Buffett No. 1 Plan of committing fraud. The adviser of the Chinese Buffett fund has in turn accused the Chinese Carlyle of money laundering. Both deny the allegations. Continue reading »

Is it party time again for Chinese distillers? It has been a rough few months for the makers of China’s fiery baijiu spirits. Their sales and stock prices slumped after Xi Jinping, the incoming president, railed against corruption and banned the boozy banquets loved by officials across the country.

But like a passed-out drinker getting a second wind, the distillers picked themselves off the floor in rousing fashion to end the week. The share prices of many of China’s biggest brands – Kweichou Moutai, Wuliangye and Jiugui – leaped 4-10 per cent over the last three days of the week, while the broader Chinese stock market fell 5 per cent, its worst week since mid-2011. Continue reading »

Zhou Xiaochan, China's central bank governorEvery indication has been given – short of an actual announcement – that Zhou Xiaochuan’s tenure as Chinese central bank governor will come to an end soon. Last month he turned 65, the official retirement age. A book of his selected speeches has been published. And state-run newspapers have written paeans to his accomplishments.

Zhou (pictured) is the longest-serving governor in the history of the People’s Bank of China and he presided over a decade that produced exceptionally fast growth and low inflation. So, he leaves big shoes to fill. Just who is likely to succeed him? Continue reading »

China’s crackdown on corruption has spawned a new trend in the country’s real estate market: panic sale advertising.

“Civil servant is anxious, anxious, anxious!” screams one ad (pictured below). “Landlord faces asset investigation, desperate to sell” is the hook for another. A third reads: “Official anxious to dump property. First come first served. Five units in all. All are excellent. Absolutely great valueContinue reading »

Critics of lotteries the world over often describe them as taxes on the poor, and for good reason. From the US to Spain, lower-income citizens are the biggest buyers of lottery tickets, and, as a group, they will lose at least 35 per cent of what they spend.

In China, though, it is more accurate to describe the lottery as a tax on hope. Those buying tickets tend to earn more than average, but they have run into the chasm that is China’s wealth gap and see the lottery as their best bridge across it. Continue reading »

Long assailed for running a massive trade surplus with the US, China has come out as the big winner from a new method for calculating global trade flows. When “value added” production is factored in, China’s surplus vis-à-vis the US shrinks by 25 per cent, according to the World Trade Organisation and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

These are important findings that Beijing will no doubt cite the next time it wants to repel foreign criticism of its export and currency policies. But the calculations also give rise to a knock-on question: could China’s surplus prove to be stickier precisely because it still has a ways to go up the value chain? Continue reading »

China was already notorious for traffic jams but driving on its roads has just got that much more frustrating. A new rule forbids cars from “running” yellow lights and advises drivers to slow down on approaching intersections even when the light is green.

The intention behind the rule is a good one: to make roads safer. But on suffering mild whiplash today when the light turned yellow and my taxi driver slammed the brakes a few feet short of the intersection, it occurred to me that the authorities had not fully grasped the consequences of overturning a century-old worldwide traffic convention. Continue reading »

The US still has a few days to avert the fiscal cliff, but a prominent Chinese ratings agency is not waiting around. Dagong has already served notice of what failure might mean, putting the US sovereign rating on its negative watch list.

It is tempting to dismiss the Dagong statement as a publicity stunt, its latest in a long line of downgrades and warnings directed at the US. But Dagong’s criticism is a good reflection of views that are commonly expressed in Beijing. And given that China is the biggest foreign holder of US government bonds, these views deserve a hearing. Continue reading »

Xi JinpingMuch has been made this week of Xi Jinping’s “southern tour”. In retracing the footsteps of Deng Xiaoping, the leader who turned China to markets after Maoism, Xi’s trip to the southern province of Guangdong has been interpreted as the possible beginning of a new push for economic reform.

But Xi’s tour was about more than just the economy. He also spent three days inspecting a military base in Guangzhou, the provincial capital, and made a series of speeches calling for stronger, combat-ready fighting forces. Continue reading »

Li Keqiang, China’s next premier, says the country must unleash urbanisation as its next big growth engine. That makes sense –China’s urbanisation rate is still just 50 per cent, well below the 80 per cent norm in developed economies.

But the government’s top-down push can play out in funny ways. If Li needs any reminder, he can look to his old stomping ground, the northeastern province of Liaoning. It is pioneering a new mode of development: start with the showcase monument, then build the city. Continue reading »

We are nearly eight hours into the decade-long rule of Xi Jinping, so it seems a perfect time to pass definitive judgment on his record as China’s leader.

Ok, maybe it is a bit soon. But that is not stopping the punditocracy – yes, including, us here at the FT – from making predictions about what Xi and his colleagues will accomplish over the next ten years. However, the evidence available is so limited that it can be interpreted in two diametrically opposed ways. Continue reading »

Is it China’s worst-kept secret? Or its cleverest bluff?

With less than 24 hours to go before the Chinese Communist party unveils its new leaders, a very detailed list of who they are and what jobs they will do has spread widely in political circles and on the internet in Chinese. Continue reading »

There was a time when experts furiously debated how to define the Beijing model of government and whether its lessons could be applied to other developing countries.

Reading through an official guide to the upcoming Communist party congress (aka the once-in-a-decade leadership transition), it struck me that, at least in its management of media, China has simply stolen a page from Sir Humphrey’s playbook. That is, it has mastered the art of how to say nothing of consequence in the most bureaucratic terms possible. Continue reading »

The New York Times just ain’t what it used to be. It’s full of sensationalism, plagiarism and out-and-out fake news. Loyal readers are losing their faith.

Or so goes the verdict from that arbiter of fine journalism: the People’s Daily, mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China. Continue reading »

Photo: Bloomberg

Credit rating agencies from China, Russia and the US are establishing a joint venture that they say will change the assessing of risk in global finance.

Dagong, a Chinese agency that has repeatedly downgraded the US, Egan-Jones, a small US agency, and Russia’s RusRating said they were answering calls for reform of the international credit rating system by linking forces to create the Universal Credit Rating Group. Continue reading »