Some weeks, dear readers, it’s as if we don’t even notice the government is there. Rarely, we’ll admit, but it happens. The heads of state sits back, content that all is going according to plan, and refrain from troublesome meddling in the affairs of legitimate businessmen. Unfortunately it is our regrettable duty to inform you that this was not such a week.
To start China’s securities regulator decided it would order brokerages to review trades and enforce rules against controlling multiple trading accounts under different names, which (and we’ll be frank here) absolutely ruined a nice little racket we’d just got up and running in Shenzhen. How else were we going to make a mint off of large holdings in a single company if owning more than 5% freezes one’s investments?
Then came troubling word that 300 listed firms’ stocks had resumed trading without so much as a peep as to why said companies had requested freezing in the first place. Dear readers, we understand the need to abuse regulations—truly, we do. A lush variety of examples springs to mind, not the least of them being the discount chain of butcher shops we run along the southeastern coastline under the assumed names of a friendly Changsha sorghum farmer and his family.
But you’ve got to commit! It’s no wonder stocks in Shanghai fell after four days of rising prices. Always have an answer ready, dear readers, however absurd. Asked if our meat was smuggled in from Vietnam, as we’ve recently heard so much is these days, we answer directly: No idea. We source it all from Yunnan. Is it our fault if our suppliers’ suppliers’ suppliers don’t do proper background checks?
Yet we doubt that argument would hold much water were we in Alibaba’s boots. This week the state’s heavy hand rested squarely on Jack Ma’s shoulder as regulators investigated the admirably complex and shadowy doings of his financial information firm Hundsun. Apparently the authorities have suggested it might’ve played some sort of role in the glut of margin loans that compounded the fracturing of mainland stock exchanges this month. And now Hundsun has halted all new account openings, as well as forbidden adding more funds to an account.
Yet if you want irrefutable proof of state meddling, look no further than this week’s GDP figure. Top leaders said they wanted to hit 7% growth this year, and when it came time to release the figure for Q2 it was as if an occult hand had reached down pull the percentage in question up a few tenths of a point. If there’s one thing Beijing excels at, dear readers, it’s setting targets. But if there’s one thing it’s even better at, it’s looking like it hit them.