Party like it's 2008
2008 is generally remembered as the year of the Sichuan earthquake Sarah Palin all financial hell broke loose when George Tupou V was (finally!) crowned King of Tonga. But China-watchers remember it for something else: Mildly concerned that the financial apocalypse rolling across the US might wash up on the Celestial Empire’s shores, those famed Beijing technocrats cried havoc and let slip every project every local official had fantasized about. Now that growth is slowing again, investors are eagerly waiting for Beijing to bring the punch bowl back to the party. Speculation started with a note by Credit Suisse, claiming a stimulus of up to US$2 trillion could be in the works. Beijing said nay, but others reckon its more or less lying. “This is classic tease behavior,” said Li Jianmeng, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, adding that comparisons to Eliza Wharton, protagonist of landmark 19th-century epistolary novel The Coquette were “inexact – but yea, you get the point.” That will be of little comfort to those looking to tap China’s moribund equity capital markets. China Yongda Auto and Graff Diamonds both delayed IPOs this week, with a spokeswoman for the latter admitting that IPO flops are both more costly and less “sexy” than jewelry store heists. “On second thought, I guess if you consider the Facebook IPO a …” she began, mumbling the rest of the sentence.
Vicious fuzzy eyeball
Some people keep guard dogs. The Chinese government keeps a vicious fuzzy eyeball, apparently on a short leash. The eyeball appears innocuous, but don’t you test the boundaries, young man! Or you may be headed for a time out. The eyeball released a system this week under which it will dock points for a range of disappointing behaviors, including spreading rumors, calling for “illegal” protests (that’s all of them, btw), promoting cults, debasing China’s honor and using sly homonyms and puns. It also dislikes when you chop onions and blow cigar smoke at it. It’s not clear how many points each of these offences will lose you, but apparently you get 80 strikes and then you’re outta there – basically the end of your Chinese social life, assuming you had one. Fortunately, clumsy puns are still allowed, so our account should be fine. But some of our friends and colleagues may not be so lucky. “Illegal” protests aren’t exactly rare, and the border line between rumor spreading and domestic journalism is vague enough. As for promoting cults, what about the beloved ritual of dancing around Xinhua and feeding it a few goats until it makes a mysterious pronouncement? We’re really going to miss that.