You’d think after a while in China these little bursts of unexpected joy occasioned by the indefatigable entropy inherent to these climes would taper off. But no. Now as twenty-five years ago, China still has the power to surprise and delight with the unpredictable. Mostly the former.
Take, for instance, that light hint of petrol we noticed wafting into the cabin of our newly purchased Audi Monday morning. No sooner had we asked our chauffeur to pull over and take a look than did we scroll through our feed to learn of Audi’s recall of 35,000 cars for faulty fuel injectors.
But that was nothing compared to the revelation that Standard Chartered would be replacing its CEO. Not that we own stock, mind. It’s just that we’d had him poised to funnel some funds into this absolutely smashing corn plantation down in Guangxi (which we’ve had a stake in for some time now), and we simply dread the prospect of having to convince the new guy all over again that all this silly chatter lately about the crop’s soaring stockpiles and rising prices is short-term poppycock. After all, half of the funding for the venture came from the local county government—you couldn’t ask for a more dependable, less-leveraged business partner, if you ask us.
(And you should ask us. We’re extremely honest.)
We couldn’t even find respite at our online haunts. No we’re not talking about the VPN business. This week SAPPRFT (say it with us, “Sahp-erft”) announced it would require online authors to divulge their real names. Now we’re not one to brag, dear readers, but between you, us and the rest of the Internet we’ve built up quite the following over at Rongshuxia writing economic fan-fiction under a certain nom de plume, and our latest Keynes vs Hayek thriller might lack our trademark daring and writerly spark if we didn’t feel safely ensconced in anonymity’s protective embrace.
Yet all of these developments paled, yes paled in comparison to the utter and complete shock we felt on hearing that merchants on one of Alibaba’s platforms might not have been fully registered merchants selling legitimate goods of the utmost and unquestionable quality. We mean, Alibaba? The same company whose arcane ownership structure got it turned down at the door by the Hong Kong Stock Exchange might somehow not have been rigorously enforcing forthright business practices among a nonzero number of the innumerable merchants using its incredibly popular peer-to-peer sales platform? We couldn’t believe our good fortune.
Why? Well we’d shorted BABA just a few days before, and good thing we did. Something about the news of their movie outfit’s less-than-optimal earnings outlook just spoke to us, is all. And so did a guy we know who spell-checks reports before they’re released at the State Administration for Industry and Commerce. Stand-up chap, that fellow.