Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Evergrande: What Happens Now?

For all their clever CCP-directed, "with-Chinese-characteristics" tweaks to classic western capitalism, somehow they couldn't avoid, errrr, a property bubble.  How demeaning for a communist country!  How ironic.

And how we'd all laugh, were it not for the plethora of predictions that the demise of Evergrande will send out shockwaves across the globe, at a time when we're all a bit fragile.

Really?  Well, perhaps.  I'm no authority on this kind of thing: and in my own sphere I already told you in February that gas prices in the far east were the start of serious energy-price inflation.  But my gut feeling is that if the west could ride the banking crisis of 2007-09, the CCP can engineer a soft landing for Evergrande.  The underlying issue, to my mind, is the impact it has on Chinese politics, both inward- and outward-looking.

On internal politics, I presume a serious property bubble - with the attendant political shame this represents for communists, as alluded to above - strengthens the hands of the socio-economic puritans of the CCP, led by this chap, Wang Huning, (whom I only became aware of recently).  2021 has already seen a striking social-media purge of individualistic content (and social media stars!) that follows hard on the humbling of tall poppies Jack Ma & co.  All this goes by the benign-sounding slogan of "Common Prosperity", but extends to a "clamp-down" on private tutoring (FFS), which must have a major impact down the road.  Does the middle-class man in the street care about Jack Ma?  Not really, I guess.  But his kid's education & perceived life-chances ..?

Then there's the long-awaited Chinese digital currency.  I have absolutely no idea how Evergrande impacts that project - does anyone here? - but it probably does.  Given that it's designed to strip the USD of its strategic role in world finance, it's kinda important for the long run.

It's the "physical" externals, though, that should surely trouble us most directly.  Last year we debated the possibility of "Peak China" having already passed.  The decades of extraordinary Chinese softly-softly patience and (rather successful) attempts to build a kind of soft power to rival that of the USA seem to have come to an end with Xi's assaults, physical and otherwise, on HK, India, the South China Sea etc etc etc.  These suggest that either (a) he doesn't care anymore about staying with the soft stuff; or (b) things weren't moving as fast as he wants.

And what's that?  Taiwan, of course - and in his time in the top slot.  By hook or by full-scale attack.

Old Man in a Hurry can be a comical phenomenon; but it can also be dangerous.  Very dangerous.  We have our own in the shape of Biden.  There's an awful lot that can go wrong here.  I've long suggested that Soviet caution in not invading western Europe when it was at its peak state of military advantage, speaks well for Politburo political maturity at that time.  But equally, they weren't in any kind of hurry - hey, they were real Marxist-Leninists; they thought it was going to fall in their laps eventually anyhow. 

But Xi, like Mao before him, is (mainly) a nationalist.  Evergrande?  Pff - a sideshow.  IMHO.




Anonymous said...

If primarily nationalists, then Japan is playing Austria to China’s Prussia. Whoa Nelly.

decnine said...

I'm just hoping you're mistaken...

jim said...

Interesting problem - the climb up the greasy pole. Presumably after Mao's big clear out there was still the desire to give one's kids a leg up. Even for the well born and well connected two 'O levels' is not much of a start, so a bit of cramming.

But how many does one want or need at the top? That expansion does not go on forever. If it did you might face some sort of population inversion - all chiefs and no indians. The Chinese might be wise to take a look at the US and UK education systems - very good in places but a thick layer of dross just underneath - and a shortage of drivers and roofers.

One of the advantages of the old class system was that only the well brought up went to university. They brought with them good manners and how to hold a knife & fork. At least enough did to show those bright-but-rough kids how and outnumber them.

But now the West has reached the decadence that matches the old Imperial dynasties and the Chinese if they are not careful will go the same way. Plus ca change.

Anonymous said...

"the possibility of "Peak China" having already passed"

Don't see it myself. They're only just kicking off IMHO.

China is burning 54% of world coal consumption, and plans to open yet more new coal fired stations. They will use this power to make solar panels and wind turbine bases to sell to the West, which is cutting coal use, while the Scottish fabricators lie idle.

More coal plants for me, useless heat pumps for thee!

Don't need so much in the way of soft power when you have hard power. Quantity has a quality all of its own. And in the long run, the hard power will create the soft power. How many Mandarin places are there at universities now compared with say 1971?

Boris is of course determined to bring in his own Fifth Column from HK. Just what Britain needs, another high-IQ, wealthy crowd with no attachment to Britain or the British beyond the passport and some elite schools.

E-K said...

I fear we are in the early stages of WW3.

It is already under way.

E-K said...

Vaping through a mask.

Anonymous said...

Whiner, I guarantee if you had to go into a care home to work and 4 of the residents and 6 staff had confirmed COVID you’d wear whatever f’ing mask was available.
You’d probably be one the union waving card holders insisting on ppf3 or more likely a respirator.
As for WW3 don’t worry your involvement won’t be required, what with your dodgy knee. LOL

E-K said...


Thank you for proving my case.

If you had to go into a care home in which there was an Ebola outbreak you'd want a hazmat suit double-taped and triple-checked.

This shows how weak CV-19 actually is (not wishing to deny it is a problem.)

You wouldn't be going in wearing a floppy mask designed only to stop droplets falling on open wounds and labelled on the box "does not stop viruses."


If you're really worried about it get your N95 on, stop telling me what I should wear on my face.

Your name isn't Karen perchance ???

E-K said...


My boy (nearing completion of his medical degree) has been fitted with his N95 issue. It meant losing his beard.

I suggest now is the time we go for focused shielding, priority vaccinations and N95s for those at serious risk on a more effective "I protect me" basis.

Clearly CV-19 is with us indefinitely and we simply can't go on like this - treating the low risk as though they are sick.

Nessimmersion said...

Re N95's and the real world evidence they aren't limiting spread.
THE HUMAN NOSE: "Particles larger than 3μm have a maximum deposition in the anterior part of the nose (nasal valve). Particles smaller than 3μm & larger than 0.5μm are filtered by the nasal mucosa and transported by cilia propulsion to the nasopharynx."

THE N95 MASK: The filtration material itself of N95's average pore size ~0.3−0.5 μm [larger average pore size is just like the mucosa filter of the NOSE] does not block finer aerosol laden with virions penetration, not to mention surgical masks. For example, see Balazy et al. (2006).

CONCLUSION: THE HUMAN NOSE is as good a filter as an N95 mask given the N95 mask has many pores which are equal in size to the filtration capacity of the nose of 0.5μm.

HOWEVER breathing mouth to mask NEBULIZES aerosols into smaller particles making them potentially more infectious to other people's lung alveoli:

"virus-laden aerosols, especially those within the most breathable size range between 0.5 and 5 μm, can carry SARS-CoV-2 deep to the terminal alveoli. However, if this transmission pathway does exist, it would bypass the mucociliary clearance and incubation period of the virus in the upper airways and thus cause direct detrimental effects on the alveolar regions of the lung, which would greatly change the progression of the disease. This could also in part explain the widely differential symptoms and clinical outcomes for COVID-19 patients even in a seemingly homogeneous population. In the alveolar region, interactions with the endogenous PS would determine the subsequent macrophage clearance of the virus-laden aerosols and interactions between the virus and ACE2 receptors expressed on the surface of alveolar type II cells. Synergetic effects between direct surfactant inhibition and reduced surfactant metabolism would worsen lung homeostasis and cause alveolar collapse and instability."