We remember those halcyon days when China’s central bank regularly and ferociously hiked interest rates, US banks were institutions of repute and American congressmen indulged in bouts of self-righteousness over the renminbi. How things change… or do they? China’s monetary policy has certainly been turned on its head, with interest rates cut for a fifth time in three months in a bid to boost the economy. Beijing is suitably concerned that it is forming a special police division to combat a potential spike in criminal and gang-related activity, an unwanted social byproduct of the slowdown. But don’t be deceived that all is new. The AFL-CIO, America’s largest labor organization, has its eye on unwanted social byproducts closer to home. As soon as Barack Obama has his feet beneath the desk, the AFL-CIO may come asking for an investigation into Chinese labor practices and whether they give the country an unfair trade advantage over the US. Beijing has been busy with its own trade agenda, meanwhile. China has put in its first ever call to the WTO for dispute resolution. The target? Supposedly illegal US taxation of Chinese goods such as steel pipes and off-road tires. Protectionism, it seems, is a man for all seasons.