Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

Hong Kong skyline

China’s Intervention Lessons

China’s stock market has been a hot topic since the summer, when a rapid rise gave way to a major plunge, triggering a global equities sell-off. The question now is what can and should be done to prevent further volatility – and whether Chinese officials are prepared to do it.

BEIJING – China’s stock market has been a hot topic since the summer, when a rapid rise gave way to a major plunge, triggering a global equities sell-off. The question now is what can be done to prevent further volatility.

To answer that question requires understanding how China got to this point. For years, with the authorities’ encouragement (or at least acquiescence), China’s securities companies spared no effort in pumping up China’s stock exchanges with fashionable financial instruments and practices, the sole aim being to realize capital gains from rising prices (dividends are rarely distributed). As a result, after years of poor performance, the Shanghai Composite Index soared by more than 100% in less than seven months, from 2,505 points in November 2014 to over 5,178 last June – a level that was not merited by China’s economic fundamentals.

The most important instrument driving this surge was margin trading, which enabled investors to borrow heavily to purchase shares. According to Bank of America strategist David Cui, some CN¥7.5 trillion ($1.2 trillion) in market positions are being carried on margin, “equivalent to some 13% of A-share’s market cap and 34% of its free float.”

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/qKcGkDT;
  1. skidelsky147_Christoph Soederpicture alliance via Getty Images_policechristmasmarketgermany Christoph Soeder/picture alliance via Getty Images

    The Terrorism Paradox

    Robert Skidelsky

    As the number of deaths from terrorism in Western Europe declines, public alarm about terrorist attacks grows. But citizens should stay calm and not give governments the tools they increasingly demand to win the “battle” against terrorism, crime, or any other technically avoidable misfortune that life throws up.

    1