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“Anyone who says that Africa is missing the Millennium Development Goals is missing the point.” You might expect such a tart statement about a canonical organising principle of development policy to come from one of the aid industry’s many curmudgeonly sceptics.

That it came instead from Jan Vandemoortele, a Belgian economist who helped create the United Nations MDGs in the first place, raises questions whether propagating a single set of targets to drive government policy across the entire developing and emerging world is worth doing at all. The “sustainable development goals”, successors to the MDGs, are currently being developed, but the unfortunate signs are that they will be yet more complex and yet less meaningful than the originals.

 Continue reading »

By John Zhu, HSBC

China has been a favoured destination for foreign direct investment since its economy opened up more than three decades ago. However, the country’s own investments abroad will soon overtake inflows. This is good for China and the rest of the world: China stands to make better returns on its foreign reserves while generating demand for its exports, while countries in need of investment can tap into a new and fast-growing source of funding.

How China exports its excess savings abroad will be a major theme driving flows into different countries and sectors. Continue reading »

It may never rival porcelain or Peking duck in popularity beyond China’s shores, but the “facekini” is being hailed by domestic newspapers as the country’s latest cultural gift to the world.

The recent publication by a New York-based style magazine, CR Fashion Book, of a photo shoot showing models wearing “pool masks” has prompted the Qingdao Evening News to claim the look as a foreign variation on a familiar theme in the north eastern seaside city.

“As soon as this photo shoot was published, the sharp-eyed among our netizens immediately recognised that this was none other than a ‘knock off’ of our Qingdao old woman’s ‘facekini’,” the newspaper saidContinue reading »

By Paul Hodges of International eChem

China’s July lending level of just Rmb 385bn ($62.6bn) has surprised financial markets, which were expecting an increase in stimulus. But bigger surprises may lie ahead.

The strong link between lending and passenger car sales suggests we may be about to see major changes in the world’s largest car market.

The key to forecasting China’s auto demand since 2008 has been the level of bank lending, as the chart below shows. Continue reading »

By Roy Williams of Vendigital

The latest wave of anti-trust investigations in China – first Qualcomm and now Microsoft and the ongoing criminal investigations involving GSK – is having an unsettling effect on global supply chains across a variety of industry sectors.

But instead of planning an exodus, Western businesses should avoid over reacting and focus on finding new, appropriate strategies that will allow them to stay and profit from doing business in the world’s fastest-growing consumer market.

Of course, any business thinking about shifting operations to China in order to gain access to its developing marketplace should do so with its eyes fully open. Businesses that go there simply seeking to profit from their exposure to the market will be unlikely to find that things run smoothly. Continue reading »

“When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time”, US Army officer and Vietnam veteran Creighton Abrams once said.

In his new book, The Rise of the New East, Ben Simpfendorfer does just that. His elephant is “The East”, the group of almost 50 emerging markets ranging from Turkey to China that is home to well over half of the world population.

Simpfendorfer gives his topic a thorough treatment. While his insights seem logical and intuitive, taken together they give an impressive oversight of into key trends shaping the region. beyondbrics noted five insights that particularly stood out. Continue reading »

By Andrew Collier, Orient Capital Research

The threat of a collapse in the shadow banking market looms over China like a hawk swooping down on its prey. Shadow loans are made outside the formal banking system and are only lightly regulated, making them a significant source of financial stress if the Chinese economy slows significantly. One of the biggest source of shadow loans, Trusts, is showing signs of weakness that could turn into a big problem for China’s economy.

There now is a staggering Rmb 11.7tn in outstanding Trust loans, approximately one-quarter of the entire shadow banking market. Using a list of 31 failed Trusts supplied by the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing, we examined them to see what they tell us about the fate the entire Trust industry – and by extension shadow banking in China.

What we found is a disturbing harbinger of things to come for China’s economy. Continue reading »

Following a decade in which Chinese largesse has helped to transform Africa’s prospects – and challenged the supremacy that western companies once enjoyed over the continent’s natural resources – Beijing has sent word to Washington that the world’s two biggest economies might combine their efforts to generate some much-needed electricity in one of the poorest.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, an expanse the size of western Europe that perennially ranks among the worst countries in which to do business, has known little but conflict and penury for decades. World Bank-backed plans to build a third dam at Inga are part of a broader vision for a dam complex capable of generating 40,000MW – twice the size of the Three Gorges dam in China. Continue reading »

By Christian Shepherd

The spate of high-profile anti-trust investigations announced in recent weeks may be the tip of the iceberg in China’s growing enforcement of its six-year-old anti-monopoly law.

The last eighteen months has seen more anti-trust activity by China’s regulatory bodies than in the previous four years since anti-monopoly laws were introduced in August 2008.

In 2013, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), responsible for ensuring fair pricing, levied record fines against a Japanese and Korean LCD cartel (Rmb353m), six international baby-formula producers (Rmb668.73m), and two Chinese white spirit producers (Rmb469m). The largest fine imposed in 2012, on a Chinese chemical company, was Rmb10.12m. Continue reading »

China’s property market – seen by some as the biggest risk facing the global economy – appears to be weakening across the board as construction activity cools, land sales slow, apartment sales slide, unsold inventory rises, financing grows tighter and the sentiment of developers slumps markedly, according to a quarterly survey conducted by Standard Chartered Bank.

“Our Developers Sentiment Index suggests that the worst times are still ahead for many developers,” concluded the Standard Chartered report authored by Lan Shen and Stephen Green. The survey polled 30 senior managers at real estate developers in June-July in six cities – Hangzhou, Foshan, Huangshi, Baoding, Lanzhou and Nanchong – on current market conditions and expectations.

The results were almost uniformly gloomy Continue reading »

By Jonathan Fenby of Trusted Sources

Tuesday’s announcement that former Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang is to be investigated for corruption shows just how important the drive launched by Xi Jinping at the end of 2012 has become, with implications that stretch beyond the political power play into the economy. It is an important weapon in the simultaneous and wider reform programme with potential positive impact on the huge state sector and the investibility of its big listed companies. Continue reading »

By Ben Simpfendorfer of Silk Road Associates

The Yuecheng in Beijing’s southern suburbs is a pleasant looking senior living home. Its main living room is full of books, potted plants, and mahjong tables. Its bedrooms are bright and well equipped and little different from the rooms that many might be used to seeing in Europe or the US.

Indeed, to the casual observer, the Yuecheng appears to be a pin-up for the commercial opportunities of selling to China’s growing ranks of elderly people. But that’s why it’s also misleading. Continue reading »

Now that the football is finished, there is time to ponder the cultural legacy of the World Cup. For Chinese, some of it may be written in characters.

The Chinese characters inked as tattoos onto footballers’ bodies – no matter how bizarre or bewildering their message – are being seen in some quarters as indicative of a great power’s cultural projection.

“Cultural differences lead to funny misunderstandings, but they still help spread the culture,” Wang Qingyuan, head of the China Association of Tattoo Artists was quoted by the state-run China Daily European Weekly as saying. Continue reading »

By Andy Rothman, Matthews International Capital Management

Statistics announced on Wednesday do much to challenge the view that sub-par Chinese consumer spending is to blame for the sluggish rebalancing of the world’s second largest economy away from an over-reliance on investment. For too long this opinion has obscured the crucial truth that China is actually host to the world’s best consumer story.

Real retail sales rose 10.7 per cent in June and 10.8 per cent in the first half of this year, compared to the year earlier period. The strong momentum of this spending springs from solid foundations, with real urban household disposable income rising 7.1 per cent, up from 6.5 per cent a year ago. Continue reading »

By Paul Hodges of International eChem

Strange things are happening in China’s polyethylene (PE) market. Despite a slowdown in the economy, demand is surging.

Our research suggests that PE, like copper and iron before it, is the latest instrument of China’s ‘collateral trade’, in which spurious imports are helping to drive one of the world’s great credit bubbles.

It can only end badly. Continue reading »