Christmas capital and Martha Stewart
Tensions can run high as the holiday approaches – even Martha Stewart dislikes being buried in wrapping paper and poked by pine needles. That’s why every couple should consider keeping a good marriage counselor on hand. Unfortunately for the US and China, however, the WTO seems to have become more of a nagging go-between than a consensus builder of late. Trade disputes between the countries heated up this week after a federal circuit court in Washington DC ruled that the US cannot lawfully impose countervailing duties against imports from non-market countries like China – as it has been doing since 1974. “We hope the United States can correct its mistakes as soon as possible,” China’s Ministry of Commerce said helpfully.
Are most of you asking for money these days? Martha may not think the practice classy, but that did not stop New China Life and Ping An Insurance from requesting some cheap capital for the holidays. Excluding those poor souls who bought the stocks and bonds, it was a gift for the rest of China too – as we always say, recapitalizing insurers is the gift that keeps on giving. The Chinese economy is also expecting some spending money under the tree: China’s top economic planner said the country will maintain “appropriate” investment growth in 2012. What does “appropriate” mean here? Basically it’s the government equivalent of “because I say so.” Ah, the beauty of authoritarianism.
Farewell, Guiding Star of the 21st Century
It appears that our previously described “juche no crazy” rule, in which North Korea takes a holiday break from its exhausting brinkmanship, has been violated. The Glorious General Who Descended from Heaven decided he’s sick of us earthlings. China, North Korea’s official BFF, learned the grim news on Saturday – a full two days before the US and South Korea found out – giving Chinese officials time to panic over kimchi and some fantastic BBQ. China had apparently been hoping the Eternal Bosom of Hot Love would delay his ascension to communist heaven by a few years, so that his son could pick up a few trick o’ the lovin’ trade. Fortunately, there are signs the younger Kim has inherited some of daddy’s notorious bad-boy charm. China said it would be willing to meet this new member of the gang, to which North Korea responded by closing its border with China, to then re-open it, according to one DPRK official, “just for kicks and giggles.” OK, so that’s not promising, but the Chinese people seem to be making the best of a tense situation. Kim Jong-il’s Chinese name, jin ge, has been widely adapted to make a new hit song, “jin ge bye” – sung to the tune of “Jingle Bells.” Pretty catchy.