Call us myopic, call us nostalgic, call us flat-out wrong, but lately we’ve found ourselves yearning for the simpler times of yesteryear, when bicycles outnumbered BMWs and China’s financial complexity was about on par with the money box of a child’s lemonade stand. Sure, hundreds of millions more were mired in socialist-imposed poverty compared to now, but at least things were easy to keep track of!
Now, though? Now you’ve got the leadership going in for derivatives, for heaven’s sake! Well, not locally, we suppose–seems the blokes in Zhongnanhai are tripling the number of central government-owned firms trading commodities futures, swaps and options overseas, and calling their outfits already abroad back home to Beijing to plan for more growth. We’ve never had to cover derivatives before–and we don’t know if you’re aware, dear readers, but they’re, like, really complicated! God forbid, we might have to actually learn something before writing about the things.
And then earlier this week the NDRC announced that practically all price caps on drugs sold here will be lifted next month. Why, our investment arm will probably have to actually hire someone to keep track of product prices that (gasp) change in accord with the push and pull of supply and demand. Like a regular bloody industry! Give us the good old days when prices were predictably fixed with every corner in sight dependably cut, and balderdash on citizens’ and regulators’ so-called “safety concerns”.
Even our much-cherished stereotypes about Chinese entrepreneurs’ perennial lack of creativity and design sense are being challenged. It used to be easy enough to stroll down the street to a factory even as recently as a decade ago and find underpaid workers assembling cheap knockoffs modeled after innovative western products. But now Shenzhen drone-maker DJI Technology has received funding from Silicon ruddy Valley! Next time we tour a factory in the States they’ll be churning out knockoff Chinese products, you just mark our words.
But at least there’s the odd strain of continuity still connecting the present and past. Early in the week the official April PMI was released showing growth, albeit by a slim margin. But no sooner had the finance ministry said its piece than did the good folks at HSBC release their own far more pessimistic figure indicating rather a lot of contraction. How we do so love to see people exposed in the middle of trying to pull a fast one. Well, so long as those people aren’t us, of course. We’ve got a business to run, you know.