Ah, dear readers. Something about this time of year–the crisp chill of a winter day’s haze; the pleasant tinges of frostbite on our toes while heading to work; the simple, joyous warmth supplied by the body heat of those crushed up against us on the subway during rush hour on the way home–it just puts us in such a generous, giving mood, even after the holiday season has drawn to a close. And clearly we’re not the only ones.
Taking pains to ensure everyone in and out of China was giving their all, Chinese tax agencies stepped up their scrutiny of overseas earnings in an apparent precursor to enforcement of China’s widely ignored tax on worldwide incomes. Americans, among the only other citizenry on Earth whose country taxes beyond its own borders, can surely sympathize. BMW, for its part, seemed intent on proving its generosity through $820 million in subsidies to cash-strapped China dealers on whose lots the automaker’s cars have been piling up of late.
Why, even China’s acronym-heavy regulatory agencies bestowed upon traders a veritable cornucopia of opportunities: the NDRC graciously unshackled the last agricultural product viewed as so vital to national security that it still remained under price controls: Tobacco. Meanwhile, the CSRC issued (draft) rules for allowing foreign investors to (hypothetically) trade in some of China’s much-coveted futures commodities, (possibly) starting with crude oil futures.
But the true patron saint of generosity this week was oil. Crude prices became so depressed that China, world leader in crude imports, might even have wiggle room for another interest-rate cut. And indeed, to practically no one’s surprise, estimates for crude oil imports to China showed inflows hitting a record 31 million tons last month as Beijing jumped to stock up the country’s oil reserves to historic highs by buying low.
Never the kind to look out only for their own interest, top Chinese leaders reached out selflessly this week to 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries at a well-timed summit in Beijing where Xi Jinping promised China would invest US$250 billion in the region over the next decade. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro surely came away the envy of other estados suramericanos, netting $20 billion of investment from China. Well, relative envy at least, what with his country’s grave budget shortfall brought on by low oil prices. Ecuador came in second with a new credit line of $5.3 billion from China’s Export-Import Bank.
And Costa Rica… well, good effort out there, Costa Rica. Maybe you can get more than a hypothetical free trade zone next time around.