Wednesday 25 July 2012

The Chinese Are Coming, Part 94

I have a feeling we know how the comments thread will run ... but here goes, anyway.

Yes, not content at coming over here with their blandishments of shiny new nuclear power stations and marrying our electricity industry, the Chinese are buying up the North Sea.

Well of course they are.  Rather them than the French, eh ?   They are becoming Proper Players (these look like serious acquisitions), unlike the Russians who simply try to sucker people into their dark alley-ways and then mug them.

Let's not forget either, the recent Chinese acquisition of the LME.  I am told by my friends in the bullion industry that these busy Chinese chappies are planning to build gold smelters (in the East), and - here's the interesting bit - are applying for accreditation by the LBMA for the coveted London Good Delivery standard (the gold standard, indeed!) that is recognised worldwide.  (Most accredited smelters smelting, incidentally, are Swiss is done in Switzerland** see note below )  Not that any of the newly Chinese-minted bullion is likely to find its way physically to London - oh, no, it is intended for the Asian markets, the usual destination in a one-way global flow which transits London as the principle trading venue.  And London takes a substantial turn.

See, direct physical control isn't everything.  But as ranted here before, by all that's holy we need to defend what's left of our integrity.  Osborne, this starts with you - Heaven help us.


** Correction, courtesy of Timmy in comments.  I believe it's correct now.  But the Freudian spelling mistake stays! (h-t dearieme)


Barnacle Bill said...

How much UK debt do the Chinese hold?

Or to put it a bit moe directly, how much of a squeeze on the old testicles have they got?

As for their UK North Sea acquisition, I think it's more a technology grab for their own plans back home, rather than a direct threat to us.

Tim Worstall said...

Most accredited smelters, incidentally, are Swiss.

Eh? 7 out of 64 is most these days?

There are also already 7 accredited Chinese smelters.....

dearieme said...

"principle trading venue": yes, I suppose principles are for sale in London.

Nick Drew said...

BB - agreed on both counts: & that's how the world moves around

Tim - corrected, ta

dearieme - haha! that one stays ...

Electro-Kevin said...

The USA are 'tilting' their battle fleet strength to the waters between Taiwan and China.

Bill Quango MP said...

£ falls against $ & euro on negative GDP.

you did all buy your euros for the summer already didn't you?
The Spanish fright gave sterling a boost.

Anonymous said...

I for one welcome our inscrutable new overlords.

Anonymous said...

I frankly don't blame them for getting collateral worth something for a change. I work in Leeds where the Chinese team is based and saw a couple of lads in Olympic gear bartering with a posh jeweller in the fancy arcade, a wizzened old yorkshire jew and 2 eager tourists conversing in a language even they didn't understand. Reckon the Chinks saved a couple of hundred ticket price..

I do like Cranmer's blog but I reckon there was a night about 3 years back now when the Chinks bought the Vatican, all this shit is mood music. The Church of England has done marvels (although Captain Haddock reckons the Queen's a complete imposter!) but the wops have banned shorting and only Internaionalle Imobliare (and 5 other Italian banks) can sell gold!?! Someone should write a shit 3rd film about it.

Rebecca Adlington's my favourite for the next 2 weeks! It's about time China took on some responsibility and it can make good its investments in Africa to good credit.


James Higham said...

That characterization of the Russians - LOL.

Anonymous said...

What you are seeing is nothing more than capital flight out of China as the China bubble starts to burst. Big Chinese companies know its game over in China and are moving their real money into North America and the UK, now seen by them as a relatively safe haven. This is part of a huge shift in capital outflow that the FT has reported on several times over the last year.

Bear in mind that China doesn't really have much money. All it really has is American government debt which was paid for in effect by the Chinese government creating fiat (debt) currency. This fiat currency was then used by US coportations to buy big chunks of Chinese real estate. You cannot get rich by selling your labour cheaper than the Sri Lankans to corner the clothing manufacturing market!

rwendland said...

ND, v.interesting leak that EDF want a CfD Strike Price of £165. That suggests BERR accept a 15% ROI (including risk premium) on private nuclear finance is reasonable right now. If EDF can get any French state money to finance our EPRs, they would be quids in.

This rather suggests that the two Chinese+westernPartner competing consortia for Horizon could easily underprice EDF. Wonder if BERR are free enough of the EDF lobby to wait for that? Also it suggests the French Areva v. EDF squabble is unresolved - or maybe Areva is acting just to block Westinghouse from gaining an entry into the UK? Fun times, if you don't think too much about the awful waste of money.

Anonymous said...

"Yes, not content at coming over here with their blandishments of shiny new nuclear power stations"

Hmmm, they offered to build new roads in Poland too. Undercfut all others to win the bids and then when they found they couldn't build the roads at the price they committed to they did nothing at all.

Nick Drew said...

EK - let us hope the leaders in the US-China stand-off show the same ultimate responsibility as did the US-Soviet leaders, when push came to shove

BQ - as noted here a year ago I had been taking payment from Euro-clients in EUR until then, & subsequently switched to GBP

(I am pleased to say)

but who knows what happens next, eh ?

anon@7.29 - well, rather them than Moscow anyhow

DtP - tx for great contribution! I will figure it all out in a day or two...

James, we aim to please

anon@11.14, yes there are some interesting dynamics at work

Mr W - yes, can the govt do the obvious thing, even at this late stage, and hold a bloody auction ?! (& not just within the nuke fraternity - all technologies) there's enough £££ at stake, you'd have thought

interesting comment from the Select Committee this week: if the nuke strike price is higher than offshore wind, there should be no nukes! too right ...

but I'm guessing all these leaks are conditioning us to be relieved when the number is £119.95 - a bargain !

BTW I notice the Shetlanders are claiming 53% LF average (57% peak) on their onshore wind, which is a bit on an eye-opener

rwendland said...

ND, good spot that 57% Shetland wind load capacity, hadn't realised that - about as good as much coal and gas! Its actually a bit better than that, as wind stronger daytime than night & winter than summer, yielding better average prices than baseload.

Trouble is because of the north to south power flow in the grid, excess Shetland power has >20% grid loss getting to where it is needed compared to south coast generation, so has higher grid charges. Though the same ROCs. North Scotland has 20% marginal generation loss, and North & NE England 12%. I wonder if CfD allows for those losses properly in the strike price?

rwendland said...

... I get the feeling you're slowing coming to the view wind is not so bad ND. If so, you're in the good company of the General Electric CEO, a major nuclear builder, who the FT reports recently said "It’s really a gas and wind world today" and "Nuclear power is so expensive compared with other forms of energy that it has become “really hard” to justify"! Hope Hendry is listening to that.

Nick Drew said...

Mr R, I don't for the life of me understand why (onshore) wind isn't broadly economic already with oil @> $100

all the existing (pre-EMR) policies were hatched when oil was <$60: if you'd said back then - how about $100 oil and no subs at all they'd have all sworn on their grannies' graves that the oil price was all they needed

so I confidently assume the fundamental problem - as with all subsidy regimes - is feather-bedding

I have been told by an engineer who *seemed* to know what he was talking about, that effective power storage (battery) is just around the corner: so I reckon it could be gas + wind + storage, with gate-closure reduced to, say, 15 mins (do-able now: and why not 10 mins ?) and some serious effort to boost liquidity in the within-day market

I also reckon there needs to be some serious quid pro quo for the subsidy-£££, in the form of ruthless windfall tax (pun happily acknowledged) to ensure very low (utility) rates of return

Nick Drew said...

oh, and re-doubled efforts on efficiency measures - the only area where I'd be happy to see some subsidies, because capital isn't too plentiful in some quarters

(I had sort-of hoped that the oil price would be higher by now, to drive this by 'natural' economic means: though perhaps GlobalRecession2 will work the same trick by a different route)

Nick Drew said...

PPS I never had any aesthetic problem with windfarms (though obviously loads of folk do): it was always the subsidies and the refusal to make them pay their way in terms of load-balancing. Tightening gate-closure is the win-win answer to meet them half-way on the latter