It’s been a long time since there was an uptick in terms of a general sense of economic stability, but this week, while a short one due to Qingming, provided news of a rise in forex reserves – not by a lot, dear readers – a mere US$10 billion, but enough to raise doubts in the minds of China doomsayers about the speed of impending disaster, even if they are unwilling to recant. The mood with regard to the RMB still seems to be one of general agreement that further devaluation is inevitable, but even China shortist-extraordinaire Kyle Bass has revised his predictions on timing, stretching it out to years rather than weeks or months. According to many predictions and guesses around the turn of the year, the RMB should have been at 7 to the USD by now, but it’s not. Capital flight? It has to be continuing, based on the anecdotal evidence if nothing else, but the near-panic of late 2015 seems to have receded, at least for now. Next week is a whole other week, however.
On the Shanghai stock market – that excellent barometer of what exactly? – the battle for “3” continued through the week, and the national team made a concerted and no-doubt expensive effort to get the index solidly into the 3k’s. But they still ended the week with a loss – 2,984 was the number at close of Friday trading. The team coach must be exhausted, and for what? It’s a puzzle as to why they decided to link their credibility to such a fundamentally random number, but they did.
Housing prices in the top cities continue to burble dangerously close to bubble territory, and if one of them bursts, who know knows how that plays out. One of many scenarios for change peeping out from behind the Chinese screen that got quite a lot more impenetrable this week thanks to the publication of the Panama Papers. All those poor people who have to monitor all these posts and keep the minds of China clear of the unnecessary and the unhelpful. Of all the jobs to have, it has to be one of the most soul-destroying. But being an ordinary official in China is also getting to be no fun for yet another reason – constant political study sessions and speeches from Beijing that need to be read. We were amazed just yesterday to see a truly massive slogan banner calling for everyone to “unite tightly” around the centre led by Mr Xi. It’s like a golden oldies concert tour, it’s of another era. Nostalgia wansui.