October 31, 2005
Scotching rumours, hot and cold
A few stories to start off the week on a gentle note:
1. Sales of scotch are going through the roof thanks to a Chinese fad for combining scotch with green tea. I suppose if you combine two digusting potions you could possibly end up with something less vile, but I doubt it.
2. Hong Kong's Government takes on the art of spin...and fails. The official spin is that Washington is full of lavish praise for Donald Tsang's political "reforms". It's not like Dick Cheney's chief of staff quit on Friday or anything when "he reacted very favourably, very positively" according to the Don. The Washington Post instead reports on "Broken pledges in Hong Kong". Meanwhile today the HK Government tells us Tsang's North American trip dispels misunderstandings. Tsang has even engaged in role-playing:
Mr Tsang said he had done a lot of soul-searching, and put himself in the position of a lawmaker who may oppose the political reform proposals. On reflection he could not find any rational reason why a lawmaker should reject the recommendations of the reform package.While Tsang was chanelling, the pro-democracy legislators were marching. Can they feel the force?
3. The Standard reports (no link) that divorce rates are shooting through the roof in Harbin, even though couples remain living with each other. Why? Because female teachers are being denied heating allowances if married as their husbands already receive it. Who says you can't put a price on love?
4. Bought shares in CCB? Below the jump is The Economist's comprehensive review of China's banking reforms (reg. req'd) and the giant gamble the government is taking. To repeat the conclusions (but read the whole thing):
China is gambling on going it alone. By rushing poorly reformed banks to market and sucking in a bit of money and know-how (not to mention greater scrutiny) from foreign investors, it hopes to improve them sufficiently and sufficiently rapidly before the economy runs into a headwind. The size of that gamble should not be underestimated.
A great big banking gamble
IT IS a staggering thought: communist China now has a bank more valuable than Barclays, American Express or Deutsche Bank, financial institutions at the heart of Western capitalism. At more than $66 billion following its initial public offering in Hong Kong on October 27th, China Construction Bank (CCB) boasts a larger market capitalisation than any of these three. CCB's listing, which raised $8 billion from foreign investors for 12% of its shares, is the largest global flotation for four years, China's biggest and the biggest ever for a bank. CCB garnered another $4 billion ahead of its float by selling stakes of 9% to Bank of America and 5.1% to Temasek, Singapore's investment agency.
posted by Simon on 10.31.05 at 08:51 AM in the Assorted news category.
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Scotch and green tea? Really? Kind of like a Chinese version of the Irish Whiskey, right, only more disgusting?posted by: RP on 10.31.05 at 10:57 PM [permalink]