[updated on Oct. 17, 2015]
It is often argued that Hong Kong is an economic city, not a political city: “Let’s focus on making money and set aside democratic aspirations.” Well, the HK government now gets what it wished for!
It is certainly true that many HK people care about making money above all else. Indeed, it is not coincidental that many “winners,” who have benefited from HK’s growing integration with the mainland economy, tend to be pro-establishment. In contrast, young people who have nothing to lose tend to be pro-democracy. But what happens when the “winners” lose in a “made-in-China” stock market crash? Worse, what happens when those traditional regime supporters blame the visible hands of the state rather than the invisible hands of market forces for their losses (cf. the causal mechanism of “attribution” in theory of contentious politics)? In trying to stabilize the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges, mainland investors are moving money out of the HK stock exchange, thus further driving down HK stock prices and hurting its traditional supporters. Whether or not Beijing could stabilize the mainland stock markets, HK’s smaller investors are sure to suffer. Meanwhile, HK as an international financial center could regain its advantage over Shanghai and Shenzhen (after all the talk “that HK is becoming just like Shanghai and Shenzhen” or “that HK is to be surpassed by Shanghai and Shenzhen”). If Beijing would learn from HK on how market forces work, there could be some silver linings in the long-term.
As if one made-in-China crisis is not enough, the HK government is suddenly confronted with another crisis that touches on a wide spectrum of HK people: Tainted water saga reveals how China SOEs do business in HK. More on the water crisis below.
[July 27] China stocks plunge, suffer biggest one-day loss since February 2007; Shanghai ends at 2-week low in biggest daily drop in 8 years, Shenzhen and Hong Kong tumble ; China’s support measures crumble as Shanghai stocks dive 8.5 per cent in biggest daily drop for 8 years
[August 24] From Asia to Wall Street: China’s stock market meltdown goes global in one of the worst trading days for eight years. “What we witnessed [on Monday] was an absolute meltdown on China stocks and the search for a safe haven continues,” said Stephen Innes, a senior foreign exchange trader at Oanda. (Frantic selling batters Shanghai and Hong Kong equity markets)
[July 10] CITIC swept huge gains in one day 中信「神秘資金」短炒期指一日勁賺30億
[July 8] The HK stock market lost all the gains it had made in previous months. Day when the only way was down: Panic selling in mainland Chinese stocks spreads to Hong Kong:
Contagion hit Hong Kong – half of whose stocks are listed mainland companies – as foreign investors fled Chinese shares amid fears of a meltdown after a nearly 30 per cent plunge in less than a month. The Hang Seng Index lost 5.84 per cent, or 1,458.75 points, to finish at 23,516.56 yesterday. That was the biggest single-day percentage drop since November 6, 2008, when city stocks were hit by the global financial crisis.
HK money has been flowing into China to make up for the outflow of mainland money 資金紛紛流出中國，但是香港的資金，卻繼續流向中國。
D100: “If not because of HK, A shares would have been finished”
The crash demonstrates the contrast between rule of law in HK and rule by men in China A股與港股，人治與法治，你會點揀？
In quick time, the notion that Shanghai or Shenzhen can play a role as a major international financial hub has been put back potentially by some years. Amid the carnage on mainland markets, Hong Kong’s appeal has returned – with its decades as a thriving investment hub, rule of law, free market policies and independent judicial system. “China’s misfortune may prove to be Hong Kong’s gain,” said Mark Konyn, CEO at Hong Kong-based Cathay Conning Asset Management. “The Hong Kong market remains a reliable and well governed alternative for China exposure and could represent good value once the dust settles.”
HK Stock Exchange chief praised the A shares market as the safest market in the world on June 24. Such creeping mainlandization of HK could cause HK’s richest to pull money out of the HK stock market:
港交所行政總裁李小加在北股海嘯前的六月二十五日（周四）於上海陸家嘴論壇上發言指出「這個市場（按 指內地股市）是世界上最安全的市場、最透明的市場、最扁平的市場、最民主的市場。… 這番不知所云簡直「冇厘頭」的言論，出自統領市值二十五萬億元香港股市的總裁之口，加上李總理干預市場的「巨靈之手」隨時可能伸進香港，筆者相信必會加速富裕階級的離心。不難想像，和《A股之歌》所鼓吹的行動不同，香港富翁不是「買進」而是採取賣出即「袋住先」的策略——賣出控制股權以外的股票及派高息！這也許是香港股市的「新常態」！ (大夢誰先覺 一言袋住先)
Mainland Chinese companies have been listing in Hong Kong in growing numbers in recent years, but what really opened the floodgates was the carefully calibrated launch of the “Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect” last November. This, a partnership between the Hong Kong and Shanghai exchanges, allows traders registered on each exchange to invest in stocks on the other. That allows cash-rich Chinese investors to bring billions of dollars out of the country legally, and gives foreign investors unfettered access to public companies in the world’s second-largest economy for the first time…. Hanergy is a warning sign, say critics: evidence that Hong Kong’s regulators are ill-equipped to deal with the new world of opportunity Stock Connect has created.
[July 27] Brokers are asked to provide information on transactions through the HK-Shanghai Connect 證監查到香港 要求券商提交滬股通交易
All working HK-ers have to buy stocks through the compulsory retirement scheme, thus have lost money in this crash 四成買港股 強積金人均蝕8490
Xi Jinping’s family members have extensive assets in HK: Billions in Hidden Riches for Family of Chinese Leader; 習近平家族早涉足中港股市、樓市
The Chief Executive blames the crash on the Umbrella Movement CY及建制派釋股災成因 與土地、拉布、佔中有關
[Aug 25] Traders Increase Bets Against Yuan Currencies pegged to buck like Hong Kong dollar also face pressure
[Nov. 8, 2015] 香港還有轉機嗎？那就要看中國政經力量會否由盛轉衰…… (「習馬會」不提「一國兩制」 香港利用價值所餘無幾)
The HK government has the misfortune of facing another crisis that hits at people’s livelihood and pocket books: water in housing estates constructed by China State Construction contains high levels of lead. China State Construction has strong ties to the CY Leung government and has secured many govt contracts. Even if the HK market recovers, the lead crisis could still reshape the dynamics of the coming District Board elections, reversing the growing edge of the pro-regime Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of HK in public housing estates.
See Explainer: How the water lead contamination scare became a citywide concern ; How the government lost public trust over lead contamination ; Hong Kong lawmaker Helena Wong moves from blunders to tainted water scandal ; The plumber at the centre of Hong Kong’s lead contamination scare has revealed that a hospital, more than 10 public housing estates and an unspecified number of private residential developments may be affected through their fresh water pipes (also Hospital piping has parts linked to lead in water: Plumber); Contractor must bear responsibility for tainted water ; Hong Kong lawmaker denies conflict in lead drinking water scare ; 梁振英民建聯成輸家 民主黨本土派有利 ; 食水含鉛超標 水務署點名水喉匠林德深避提中國建築 ; 【 香港鉛爆？】房署准用國產貨被指罪魁 網民稱國產「假銅」水管整條含鉛 政府謊稱接駁位出事圖掩飾 問題遍全港 ; 中國建築母公司 曾涉賄賂被世銀列黑名單; 蔣麗芸積極反拉布 丈夫任董事中國建築 逾百億工程合約受拉布影響; 一鉛領導多鉛社會 鉛鉛不絕香港玩鉛 ; 鉛水 ; 一杯鉛水 澆醒港豬 ; 689句式下看到的政治現實: 沒有民主，哪有民生…
the World Bank imposed a six-year ban on the firm’s parent, China State Construction Engineering Corp., barring it from project bidding as a result of a bribery case. So why is it that this notorious Chinese firm was still awarded fat government contracts in Hong Kong? Could this be the result of a little help from Beijing’s liaison office in the territory?
… The fallout is now causing political ripples. CY Leung and the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong are among the big losers as most of their supporters are low-income senior citizens living in public housing estates. This evolving crisis is a direct threat to their health. Suffering from the inferior quality of the homes and facilities built by Chinese state-owned firms, these Leung supporters may resent the government’s policy of integration with the mainland.
CY Leung belatedly sets up a third body to investigate Hong Kong water contamination scare. Critics suggest that CY had first to make sure that China State Construction is only a minor state-owned enterprise and so the commission wouldn’t upset Beijing:
Lesson from Li Ka-shing’s saga?
After the stock market crash, Li Ka-shing, who had the foresight to move his assets out of China earlier, has been subject to attacks by party media:
[Sep 29-30, 2015] Li’s empire strikes back: Hong Kong’s richest man slams mainland Chinese media for ‘totally unfounded’ reports he is divesting from country: Tycoon rejects accusations he is abandoning the mainland, saying such ‘Cultural Revolution-style’ attacks by media do not reflect Beijing’s views; 李嘉誠回應官媒批鬥撤資：令人不寒而慄，深感遺憾; 李嘉誠揮手辭親故; Global Times responds to Li’s statement : Accept your fall from grace, Chinese state-run paper tells Li Ka-shing after he rebukes critics; 環時：內地輿論對李嘉誠去神化 不再是「愛國愛港楷模」; Why Beijing should let Li Ka-shing run away even further
[Oct 3, 2015] Tycoons not the boss anymore as Beijing calls the shots:
“Mainlanders now tend to see Li Ka-shing as a ‘profit comes first’ businessman, rather than ‘a role model who loves the country and Hong Kong’.” … Thanks to the two-week long media bashing of the “superman” on the mainland, every tycoon in town should by now know who the boss is and how to behave. Beijing is, however, not allowing them much time to turn “patriotic”. It is not taking any chances, grooming its own crop of patriotic tycoons in Hong Kong.
[Sep 24] 官媒轟李嘉誠撤資 林行止：乃李嘉誠不撐梁振英種下禍根
[Sep 20] The curious ventures of Superman Li: Is Hong Kong tycoon’s empire switch political or just good business? As tycoon Li Ka-shing faces criticism for pulling out of mainland and Hong Kong markets, many ponder his connections to Chinese politics
As the world frets over Greece, a separate crisis looms in China :
The tumble has already wiped out more than $2.4 trillion in wealth—a figure roughly 10 times the size of Greece’s economy.
–Over the last year, the market surged thanks to borrowed money
–Government efforts to prop up the market have failed
As Chinese stocks climbed ever higher earlier this year, some commentators began to ask if a stock market collapse would have implications for the broader Chinese economy. In short, just about the last thing the country needs amid slumping global (not to mention domestic) demand is for a crisis of confidence in local equity markets to spill over into the real economy and derail consumer spending just as Beijing attempts to transition the country away from a smokestack model and towards an economic future characterized by services and consumption. Generally speaking, the consensus was that any fallout from the bursting of the equity bubble would largely be confined to the financial markets. Now, analysts are very quietly starting to suggest that if the sell-off doesn’t end soon, it could metastasize and spread “far beyond the stock market.”
Investors got burned for believing the government could stop share prices from falling further, and each time they were proved wrong. If they had no such illusions, things might have worked out better… in the A-share market, government intervention disturbs the price discovery process because it unifies investor expectations and encourages them to make the same choice. This means investors no longer care about the true value of a stock. They only wonder when the government will step in and how much extra liquidity will be available. In this scenario, investing becomes gambling on the government’s actions.
Caixin: How Beijing Intervened to Save China’s Stocks Government agencies from the securities regulator to central bank rallied around the stock markets after investors fled
China Bans Stock Sales by Major Shareholders for Six Months. What will happen 6 months later?
[July 9] Investors breathe a sigh of relief as mainland China, Hong Kong stocks swing to higher close; Chinese Stocks Rise, but Fears Persist; and
given the amount of support the Chinese government is providing, the fact that a majority of companies have halted trading, and the number of regulations meant to stop further sales of stock, it’s hard to say whether that represents real gains or artificial supports.
“Nine consecutive days of net money outflows from China [through the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect], which amount to more than 40 billion yuan, is unprecedented,” said Steven Sun, HSBC’s head of Hong Kong/China equity strategy… Figures for northbound trading through the cross-border stock scheme showed foreign investors placed more sell orders than buy every trading day from July 6 to 16… During the period, northbound investors sold 73.65 billion yuan worth of shares and placed buy orders worth 31.79 billion yuan.
Fingering short sellers is a “smoke screen to lay the blame at someone else’s feet,” said veteran market analyst Peter Churchouse, adding such ad hoc measures are one reason foreign institutional investors have largely “headed to the hills”. (China stocks post worst monthly fall in 6 years)
Global investors are turning away from Chinese stocks after aggressive efforts by Beijing to halt the market’s plunge—steps some fund managers say have undermined plans to overhaul the market. Overseas buyers have pulled capital out of Chinese stocks via the Stock Connect trading link between Hong Kong and Shanghai for seven straight trading days, the longest stretch of net outflows since the program began in November.
The preliminary China Caixin purchasing managers index (PMI) surprised markets by dropping to a 15-month low in July, with analysts pinning the hit on the recent stock market crash and weak export demand. The index, released Friday, fell to 48.2, coming in well below the 49.7 forecast from a Reuters poll and the 50-mark separating growth from contraction… The data mark a sharp contrast to China’s quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) data released last week, which beat forecasts by showing 7.0 percent growth, renewing long-standing concerns over data accuracy.
The MNI figure, based on a monthly poll of mainland business executives, is the latest indicator suggesting the mainland economy is feeling the pain brought by the US$3.9 trillion stock market unwind that started in mid-June.
And if the plan succeeds, it will likely succeed for the blue chips that are explicitly targeted, while the mid-and small-caps go into free-fall. But it is the small caps that have been falling the most and triggering margin calls, and it is also the small caps in which the retail speculator plays. That means that even a successful stabilization plan will likely leave the average investor with deep losses. Yet it is precisely the average investor’s cash that is needed; regulators can generally access the cash flows of SOEs and sovereign funds by fiat, but they need to induce retail to fork over cash, to bring in resources from outside the circle of State-owned capital. … State actors have already tucked away capital gains; now their goal is to strategically spend a small portion of those gains in order to induce the retail investor to come back to the market, because without the retail market, the equation does not work. The goal, after all, is to capture household savings…
The government’s actions may have prevented a politically embarrassing stock market meltdown, but in the process, they’ve made the task of modernizing China’s economy more difficult.
China stock market crisis — Broker Francis Lun:
The market can only go up, not go down. What kind of market is this? … The danger is, when you interfere with the market, you have to support the market for eternity.
It is not the plunge in share prices, however, nor the implications for the Chinese economy that are worrying, so much as the government’s frenzied attempts to bring the sell-off to a stop…Botched attempts to save stocks suggest it is losing control, while a successful rescue would have made buying shares a one-way bet—inflating the bubble still further. (China embraces the market–A panicked response to tumbling stocks casts doubt on the pace of reforms)
Buying stocks “is buying the Chinese dream”, proclaimed a top brokerage. The plunge of nearly one third over the past four weeks has left the dream in tatters. Officials are seen to have promised the population a bull market, only to lure them into a bear trap. (Uncle Xi’s bear market–China learns that stocks are beyond the Communist Party’s control)
Even if China’s stock markets end their dizzying falls — and analysts say there is still room to tumble even after a respite on Thursday — the sense of steady control that once cloaked the Communist Party leadership may take longer to recover… if a mere market correction could rattle the government, what might happen during a serious downturn?… At stake is not only the stability of China’s economy, but also faith in Mr. Xi and his colleagues. (Future Shock)
China’s leaders have less power to direct the economy than many think… The biggest danger here is that a series of bad decisions by the Communist Party will force the world to reevaluate a truly critical investment premise: that China’s government knows what it’s doing.
Beijing may have averted a crisis in its stock markets with heavy-handed intervention, but the world’s biggest corporate debt pile – $16.1 trillion and rising – is a much greater threat to its slowing economy and will not be so easily managed. … at 160 percent of GDP…. And the debt mountain is set to climb 77 percent to $28.8 trillion over the next five years… It took an unprecedented series of measures to arrest the plunge in China’s stock markets, which are worth just over $8 trillion and are a minority pursuit for the relatively wealthy. Tackling corporate debt might make that seem like child’s play.
Questions grow over how China returns stability to equity markets as its 120 billion yuan stabilisation fund is just a fraction of the capitalisation of its markets and less than 10 per cent of the 1.4 trillion yuan in outstanding margin finance.
the Chinese government is pumping torrents of money into its banks. And many trillions of yuan have been flowing into stocks via the interbank lending markets. Just as interesting, though, is where the cash isn’t flowing. Despite the flood from the central bank, the money geysering forth isn’t making its way into ordinary people’s pockets, their checking accounts, or growth-boosting infrastructure projects…. hopes of steadying stock indexes enough to convince investors to pile back in. If this doesn’t happen soon, though, the Chinese government will either have to accept a selloff—threatening the Communist Party’s popular credibility—or just keep the money coming. That will zombify the stock market.
The Economist’s China’s stock market crash – A red flag: “Less than 15% of household financial assets are invested in the stock market.” According to the widely respected China Household Finance Survey led by Gan Li, professor at Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, only 6 per cent of households owned stock in the first quarter of 2015. What matters, however, is that people who have invested in stocks have tended to be “winners” of the China model, as opposed to “losers” ( e.g. peasants whose lands are taken over with little compensation and workers who are exploited and sometimes not paid for their labor) who have been responsible for rising “mass incidents” over the years. Recently, “the stock market increasingly has become a vehicle for China’s emerging middle class” and “many of the new investors in the Chinese market over the past year appear to be quite wealthy.” “The pain is politically thorny for the Communist Party because those hurt often are entrepreneurs and professionals who have benefited from its market-style economic reforms and should be a pillar of support for one-party rule.” Beijing should indeed be very worried when “winners” also become “losers” in this market crash and blame the party-state for their losses.
Who benefits from the rescue efforts?
“China’s growth has been founded on a repression of returns to savers.” The market’s primary role is to “funnel people’s savings to state-owned enterprises as cheaply as possible. (Prestige of the Communist party tumbles in the Great Fall of China)
“All of the ham-fisted policy support pouring into the Shanghai market right now is likely to end up propping up the blue chips,” wrote analysts Michael Parker and Derek Lam of Alliance Bernstein.
Big investors had sold their stocks and reaped huge profits before the great fall 【及早離場】強國大戶股災前沽貨套3600億人仔！
Ordinary people suffer while state-owned enterprises see their values go back up 殺滅了平民大媽，美其名教訓無知股民；同時保障國企央企黨企，股價飛昇不倒，繼續以無限的錢財，不受監督的權力，主宰蟻民生活。
Nearly quarter of Chinese investors ‘suffer over 50 per cent losses’ as stock market slumps, survey suggests. Some are pleased that they didn’t lose all the gains: Loss, life lessons and luck in China’s stock market turmoil.
… the larger question relates to the implications for the Communist Party rule in general. When China’s stock markets were booming, the Communist media celebrated this as a sign of the superiority of the country’s authoritarian state capitalist model of “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” But when things are going very wrong, it is the party that is seen as accountable for the consequences. The bottom line is that the Chinese middle class has been co-opted by the party to sacrifice their entitlements to citizenship, and to democratic freedoms and rights, in exchange for the promise of better living standards. But if the Chinese economy continues to go south, it may dawn on 90 million largely urban, middle-class investors that the party is unable to keep up its side of the bargain.
As with other Chinese figures, it is difficult to know if there are indeed 90 million investors or how many of them are small investors. See Myth of China’s retailed investors; there Are Now More Stock Traders in China Than Communist Party Members; ‘Small potatoes’ investors reeling from China stock crash; China’s dama 中國大媽 (middle-aged women) investors ; Nothing says bull market like the guy selling fruit and reading technical analysis charts:
“This is the slaughter of the middle class,” Mr. Hao, a financial investment adviser in Chengdu, said on July 15. “Of my friends, even those who have borrowed the equivalent of their cash, at a 1:1 ratio, have received margin calls from their financial firms. They lost the entire wealth they accumulated in the past 10 years. We estimate that at least 500,000 to 600,000 middle-class investors have been eliminated in this round of the stock market plunge!”… Forbes once estimated that China’s investing middle-class, defined as those with cash to invest of $96,480 to $964,000, would become 14 million strong at the end of 2014. If 500,000 to 600,000 of them are gone, then the crash wiped out 3 percent of that group… 80–90 percent of clients at most of the companies, and even 100 percent in some companies, lost their investment capital.
[Aug 28] China: Credibility on the line
[Aug 28] For China, a Plunge and a Reckoning:
The upheaval is traumatic for China’s leaders but not life-threatening to China’s system. Yet the jolt may have been just large enough to change the country’s underlying bargain between ruler and ruled—and by doing so, to temper Beijing’s current tendency toward arrogance, rigidity, belligerence and diplomatic hectoring.
Why Beijing’s Efforts Have Failed to Tame China’s Stock Market: The more the government intervenes, the jumpier investors get
The more the party state tries to rescue the market, the more it is blamed for the crash (and thus the stronger the mechanism of attribution). Cartoon by Badiucao: Daddy Xi saves the market:
“Money Flies, Heart Throbs” — Recent Chinese State Media Commentaries on the Stock Market: China Change translates excerpts from Party media that helped to talk up the disastrous rally.
A call to join the war of defense of A shares:
A satire on the reason for intervention: 某個A貨會議室內…
And satirical lyrics in response to the official call to defend China’s stock market as a patriotic duty: A股之歌－《國家隊進行曲》
As China’s stock market continued its wild ride, dropping 30% by early July from a seven-year high only a month prior, rumors started swirling that Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and George Soros, among other vague forces of international capital, were to blame for the stock market plunge. No matter that foreign investors have only limited access to mainland Chinese stock exchanges, the current Chinese leadership has become addicted to the foreigner blame game. The phrase “hostile foreign forces” has become a catch-all for Chinese officials, scholars and media commentators who cannot acknowledge the reality of China’s current political and economic situation.
China Security Ministry to Probe ‘Malicious’ Short Selling, even though it “represent[s] a relatively small portion of China’s trades.
Humor on social media : What China’s nerve-wracking stock market looks like from inside the country
When will things turn around? An image of Anne Hathaway and Matthew McConaughey from the science fiction movie “Interstellar” takes a guess:
“Gravity is so great here that one hour is like seven years on Earth,” she says.
“Great,” he replies. “Let’s just wait here for the next bull market.”