It’s weeks like this, dear readers, that remind a quarter-century-old publication such as ourselves that everyone needs a little help now and then. Now granted, we personally have never experienced such an embarrassing deficit of self-sufficiency at any point during our own 1,400-odd weeks of existence. But we’ve seen more than our fair share of bailouts over the years, of every size and shape—and some of them even worked!
Take China’s stock market—please. (We jest!) Just this week the national securities regulator announced 10 public listings in Shanghai and Shenzhen mere months after authorities forced a “national team” of state financial institutions to purchase equities until their prices stopped falling. Granted that left said team with ownership of roughly 6% of the entire market, but regulators seem to have quelled their own panic enough to finally rescind a mid-rout order from July requiring brokers to buy more than they sell during proprietary trading. Why, even Credit Suisse is set to get in on the upswing now that it’s been granted permission to broker out of Shenzhen–though we do wonder whether today’s fall of more than 5% by the Shanghai Composite Index might not give said firm a case of cold feet.
Or take South China Morning Post—if you don’t, Jack Ma just might. This week rumors swirled about the e-commerce captain of industry making a bid for the ailing English-language Hong Kong newspaper, all accompanied by great hubbub over the potential implications. And sure enough, the Post’s owner let slip on Thursday that it was in early talks with a mysterious third party about the purchase of its “media assets”.
But there may be no greater underdog in China today than Citic Securities, which this week was hit with a nasty one-two combo. First the showcase brokerage admitted to overstating equity swaps by, oh, about 26 times during the April-September period, blaming the bookkeeping blemish on computer “system upgrades”. Then it had to disclose to the Shanghai exchange that the national securities regulator was launching a probe into its activities on suspicion of violating securities rules.
Second chances are practically always welcome, of course. But we’re afraid Citic Securities has about as much hope of a digging its way out of its current straits as aspiring mogul Wang Jing does of finishing his much-vaunted ocean-to-ocean canal across Nicaragua. We’ve always been big boosters of business gumption, mind, but with Wang’s fortunes having literally been decimated by the summer stock rout we’re afraid the only way he’s going to realize his dreams is to pick up a shovel and get digging.