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The great Chinese sharemarket selldown

Written By: - Date published: 11:48 am, July 28th, 2015 - 70 comments
Categories: capitalism, China, Economy, International - Tags:

China share market crash

The Chinese share market has recently shown strong signs of being a bubble.  Following a sustained increase in share prices until July this year the market then hit severe turbulence, and previous gains have been well and truly wiped out.

Emergency measures were taken by the Chinese Government to slow down the sell off and showed how different the Chinese economy is to the US economy.  Steps included the suspension of the sale of shares once their value dropped by 10%, the suspension of new IPOs, new cheap credit, Government agencies actively buying shares and a ban of share sales by major shareholders.  A sign of how desperate the measures are that over half of all listed companies have the sale of their shares suspended.

Last night’s news of a further dramatic drop suggest that the measures are not enough.  From the Guardian:

Following three weeks of relative calm, the Shanghai Composite Index plummeted on Monday, ending down 8.5% at 3725.56 – its worst fall since February 2007. Meanwhile the Shenzhen index dropped nearly 7.6% to close at 12493.05 points. Analysts predict more misery ahead for investors in the world’s second largest economy.

Xinhua, China’s official news agency, commemorated the latest crash in a tweet that read: “The return of the debacle!” Two-thirds of all companies listed on the Chinese mainland, or about 1,800 stocks, lost 10% of their value – the maximum daily limit – and were suspended.

Rajiv Biswas, chief Asia economist for analysis firm IHS Global Insight is quoted in the article as saying this:

The government has been trying to hold back the tide like King Canute. This is now a stock market crisis and you can see from the responses that they have been making that they are not really sure how to address it. Today’s developments are just going to put this even more at the centre of their economic problems.”

The basic problem is that the splurge on shares was caused by the stoking of greed and fuelled by cheap credit.  Now many Chinese citizens will have worthless shares and debt to repay.  And the purchase was dependent on never ending growth.

And the implications for New Zealand?  Reduced consumer confidence and discretionary spending power are bound to hurt sales of milk, wine, and other items that we export not to mention a reduction in inbound tourism.  This could be grim.

70 comments on “The great Chinese sharemarket selldown”

  1. ianmac 1

    When China sneezes NZers become cot cases.

  2. Sabine 2

    and maybe it needs to crash. there is no denying that the current system is simply not sustainable.
    so let them crash, let some of the rich guys eat crow for a while.

    • maui 2.1

      +1, it’s going to get ugly sooner or later.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.2


      Very definitely need to let the system crash. That would allow us to start putting in place better policies and a better system.

    • Colonial Viper 2.3

      The elite 0.01% have been exiting the Chinese market for months. It’s the “Mum and Dad” investors who get screwed with these crashes. In other words, it is a massive transfer of wealth upwards to the 0.01%.

      • Ad 2.3.1

        Leftie schadenfreude is just a sad dream.

      • G C 2.3.2

        It happened to Chinese “Mum and Dad” property investors between 2005 – 2011. I think there are insightful parallels which could be shown more by the media.

        Unfortunately many of the investors burned by the Chinese Property bubble are probably now being stung by the Stock Market Bubble.

    • Ad 2.4

      It’s not the rich who suffer in a crisis.

      Economic recession is not political revolution.

      It’s the poor who suffer more in a recession.

      If there’s another recession coming, our current trends of poverty, homelessness, decreasing home ownership, greater wealth disparity, more of the precariat going under will be the trends that increase.

      • Sabine 2.4.1

        well, considering that the poor have been suffering for a while, i think the rich will find a crash a bit harder. For the poor it will be business as usual.

        • Ad

          Nope, the poor will find it infinitely worse. The 1% will find it inconvenient.

          Check out who is really suffering in Greece.

  3. linda 3

    Its not just china the stock values are fantasy. You. Only hid the truth for: so long.
    It doesn’t look good. For new Zealand rock star economy. Key will resign before the implosion as all bad managers do ,it was all right when. I was pm.

  4. Weepus beard 4


  5. Ad 5

    Australasia does not need another economic crisis.

    The NZ hit of exposure to dairy, East Asian service economy demand, Chinese anti-corruption drives decreasing luxury goods demand, and risk to Auckland’s housing bubble, leaves NZ intensely vulnerable on nearly every important front. The Opposition should not go down the path of crying crisis. This will go so deep into NZ that they should think about how they can deepen points of common interest with the Chinese government, with key exporters, and with the NZ Chinese resident and citizen populations.

    Time to look like you can help, not cry doom.

    • Sabine 5.1

      yes, sure lets help the rich people all over the world to keep their inflated assetts inflated…cause the wealth will trickle down.

      And again, it has got nothing to do with ‘the Chinese” is has all got to do with a subset of a small handful or two of man and women that hold these inflated assets and that will rather you starve before their virtual bank accounts loose a zero.

      Explain to me why my milkprices here in NZ have gone up three times this year, when the global market is down grading the price of Milk solids.

      Care to explain, other then I little Nz’ler has to support someones inflated virtual account.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.2

      The Left can if they do this. If they try to keep the failed neo-liberal system then it’s just gonna get worse.

      • Ad 5.2.1

        No government in the EU or OECD is proposing that.

        Sorry to go all Keynsian on you, but what better protects us from the great capitalist waves breaking, is a large and healthy public service doing public service and public works.

        It’s the only thing that’s got us out of a Depression in a century.

        • Draco T Bastard

          No government in the EU or OECD is proposing that.

          The idea is to do something different rather than doubling down of the failed system we have now as the EU are doing.

          And you’ll note that what I propose has Keynesian overtones but it’s not there to protect capitalism as Keynes was trying to do.

          • Ad

            Go for your life.

            What you propose will never happen in New Zealand under any foreseeable political mix.

            • Draco T Bastard

              Well it certainly won’t if it’s not suggested and I think that we have no choice about to be honest. All other forms of financialisation have failed miserably.

    • maui 5.3

      I went to a talk by Dr Mike Joy the other day, and interestingly he was saying along the lines of we have threatened/endangered most of our native freshwater fish species, practically all of New Zealand’s lowland rivers are completely unswimmable (over 90%) due to dairy and beef. That is some of the domestic environmental cost of export dairy.

      Internationally, we’ve completely destroyed the island of Nauru by opencast mining it for phosphate and spreading it on our farms as fertiliser. Since that phosphate is super rich in cadmium, we now have high levels of toxic cadmium rich soil in productive land all over NZ from spreading it around for decades (much higher than other countries). Our cattle are so full of cadmium that their internal organs are not fit for sale.

      We export most of dairy products as milk powder to China where workers have to work in slave like conditions to get it ready for sale. We’re also a massive importer of palm kernel, meaning we are supporting the destruction of rainforests that have to be removed for palm plantations in places like Indonesia, and the predictable slave labour that occurs for us to get our hands on this product cheaply.

      ^A few reasons why this shouldn’t go on any longer.

      • Molly 5.3.1

        Thanks maui. I agree with what you say here.

        The externalities of some of our big earners, are ongoing costs for NZers.

        I was speaking with someone about the cadmium issue just a couple of weeks ago. She is involved with water testing for nitrates etc for a community group, and mentioned the high cadmium levels. Another unconsidered consequence of trying to change a balanced ecosystem to deliver only one outcome.

      • Macro 5.3.2

        The size of NZ’s dairy herd is around 6.1 million cows at present. With the down turn of milk powder prices it is estimated that the size will reduce by around 1 million for the next milk season. That’s 1 million cows slaughtered just like that. We are such a caring species.
        I don’t drink Fontarra milk for much the same reasons as you outline above, and because of the way our dairy herd is treated. The natural life of a dairy cow is around 20 years, but the life of a cow in a “conventionally farmed” dairy herd in NZ is around 5 years. Fed crap, continually impregnated from a young age, and exploited over their short life time, these animals die prematurely.

        • maui

          Another interesting point he made is those 6 million cows each produce as much urine waste as 14 people, so that is the equivalent of about 90 million humans living in rural areas pissing all over our countryside. No wonder our rivers are in such a state.

          I haven’t made the jump to change my consumer habits of a lifetime, I still have mass produced milk and I eat red meat. But when you lay out all the destructive things in the industry it does make you think – should I be supporting this?

  6. esoteric pineapples 6

    “This could be grim.”

    Or not – sometimes when bubbles burst it means ugly developments of one kind and another can’t go ahead. The more milk prices drop the more chance my favourite river won’t be dammed and all the rivers in my region become unswimmable.

    • Chooky 6.1

      urmmm…but they may be full of foreign swimmers…you know the foreign ones who have bought up all the bankrupt New Zealand farmland

      • esoteric pineapples 6.1.1

        I’m happy to share if the water is clean.

        • Chooky

          like the Yangtze or Ganges…unfortunately over- population is not good for clean rivers…or rivers full stop.

    • Colonial Viper 6.2

      The more milk prices drop the more chance my favourite river won’t be dammed and all the rivers in my region become unswimmable.

      Works both ways. Farmers might decide to try and maxmise their output to make up for the shortfall in per kg pricing, for instance.

      • esoteric pineapples 6.2.1

        That’s possibly true. But while milk prices remain especially low, no increase in production will make investing in a dam profitable for farmers. I think the dam thing is a bit of a ponzi scheme anyway.

        The government puts money up front, the constructors take a cut, farmers who have sheep & beef properties sell their land at an inflated price to a dairy investor, banks make money lending to the purchaser, agricultural companies make money out of supplying irrigators etc, the irrigation scheme becomes unprofitable, and the whole thing deflates leaving the tax payer and rater payer to pay for someone else’s profits at the same time as not having a clean river to swim in any more.

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    Analysts predict more misery ahead for investors in the world’s second largest economy.

    Actually, indications are that China is the worlds largest economy.

    Now many Chinese citizens will have worthless shares and debt to repay.

    That would be the same as what happened to many people in The Great Depression.

    And the implications for New Zealand? Reduced consumer confidence and discretionary spending power are bound to hurt sales of milk, wine, and other items that we export not to mention a reduction in inbound tourism.

    The silver lining being that the house prices in Auckland may hold steady for awhile if not actually drop.

    The lesson to be taken home from all of this is, simply, that the market system doesn’t work, that that failure to work is exacerbated by the existence of rich people and that we need to be looking for a replacement system and getting rid of rich people.

    • Chooky 7.1

      @ DTB…re – “The silver lining being that the house prices in Auckland may hold steady for awhile if not actually drop”

      Ummm….I wouldnt count on house prices to fall

      ….not with the huge population and pressure coming out of China…I.3 billion people…excess of 55 million males to females by 2020 (could swamp NZ many times over…NZ is paradise)
      ….the demand to get out of and take money out of grossly overpopulated, human rights violations, environmentally trashed China with its share market plummeting is HUGE


      • Draco T Bastard 7.1.1

        Well, I did say ‘may’ help but considering the draconian (I really love that word 😈 ) actions that the Chinese government have already taken regarding their stock market crash they may just decide to stop all funds leaving the country. It’s certainly something that I’d look at doing in their position.

        • Chooky

          possibly… but I dont think so unfortunately …they want to extend their influence and spread their risks….aren’t many of the loans made for foreign investment made from the Chinese Banks

    • Phil 7.2

      indications are that China is the worlds largest economy.


      1) The quality of China’s official statistics leaves a lot to be desired, and certainly cannot be relied upon for as accurate a measurement as most of the western economies that have much more transparent and audited processes for measuring GDP. That the World Bank has had a crack at doing this comparison is admirable, but I think even they would admit there is a lot of uncertainty in Chinese data.

      2) ‘Largest’ can mean a lot of different things. GDP is a measure of income only , so even if Chinese GDP is now larger than the US, it’s unlikely to top the total assets or average per-capita income of the US economy for quite some time yet.

      What I mean is; for many years you’re earning $1.00 a day and your neighbor has been earning $0.50c. Suddenly your neighbor’s income goes up to $1.01. Is s/he now “richer” than you? Probably not, because you’ve got many years of accumulated assets and resources behind you that they have not.

      • Colonial Viper 7.2.1

        congrats, you just successfully defined “pedantry.”

      • Draco T Bastard 7.2.2

        Even the article I linked to said it was contentious but it is something that will happen sooner or later (and probably sooner) even if it hasn’t happened yet.

  8. Ovid 8

    The Economist foresaw this back in April:

    For those with a cautious bent, there is no shortage of warning signs. Three are especially noteworthy. First, valuations are beginning to look stretched and, in some cases, plainly absurd. ChiNext, China’s small-cap board, has a trailing price-earnings (PE) ratio of 90, more than double that of internet stocks at the peak of America’s dotcom bubble in 2000. Second, leverage has soared over the course of the rally. Outstanding loans to stock investors reached a record 1.67 trillion yuan ($269 billion) as of April 13th, up some 300% from a year earlier. Finally, many of those rushing to snap up stocks are small-time day traders with little understanding of what they are buying. Chinese investors opened nearly 5m trading accounts in March, a stampede that has continued into April. A survey by China’s Southwestern University of Finance and Economics found that two-thirds of new investors last year did not complete high school.

    • Ad 8.1

      Just step back a bit a consider why this is less likely to be the crisis the left wants it to be:

      Less than 15% of China’s household financial assets are involved in the sharemarket. This is why soaring shares did little to boost consumption and crashing share prices won’t hurt it much. While many stocks were bought on debt, that represents just 1.5% of total assets in the Chinese banking system.

      Happy to be analysed otherwise, but there are better reasons to forecast doom for China than its sharemarket.

  9. Kevin 9

    A few things to consider:

    China’s economy is predicated on a massive working-age peasant population. As the population gets older this work force will naturally start shrinking and with it the economy.

    China’s workforce is mostly unskilled and inefficient. Something like one American worker is worth 100 chinese workers.

    China is a third-world Muldoonist economy. There is nothing innovative about it. Their whole economy is based around creating consumer goods for western companies cheaply.

    Corruption is rampant and the Chinese government has their fingers in every pie. That means businesses that should have gone bust are allowed to stay in business through subsidies because some bureaucrat has a self-interest in the business. For now China can afford to do this but once the number of inefficient businesses outnumbers the ones that are actually making money then the cash will soon run out.

    Because of China’s disastrous one-child policy one working chinese will be having to support 12 or 15 retired chinese. When I put this to a chinese woman she replied that the retired chinese could support themselves. I guess she didn’t get that most working chinese work for sustenance wages and are unlikely to be able to save much money for their retirement.

    It is is sheer lunacy for our government to put all our eggs in China. What we need to do, if we’re not doing it already, is diversify as much as possible and look for new emerging markets, especially those markets likely to take China’s place.

    • vaughan little 9.1

      there’s quite a bit of innovation in tech/e commerce.

    • Sable 9.2

      China has recently amended its one child policy. I agree it was never a good idea to start with but the problems they have with population control are very difficult to manage.

      Corruption is indeed also a very big issue that has only been partly addressed so spot on there too. That said the same could be said of the USA, UK, EU and Australia/NZ.

      Where I don’t agree is the comment regarding US workers. In my experience a good portion of the US workforce is either ill educated or illiterate on one level or another. By contrast the standard of education in China is high with savage competition to get into the top three tiers of schooling which lead to the best universities. All in all China’s knowledge base is probably stronger than the US. On that basis alone I would have more faith in China’s longevity than the USA.

      By the way which emerging markets are you referring to? Other BRICS nations? Just curious…..

      • Kevin 9.2.1

        “By the way which emerging markets are you referring to? Other BRICS nations? Just curious…..”

        Just guessing but India could possibly be one, and possibly Malaysia.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.3

      Wow, you really sound like someone who thinks that nothing changes.

      China’s workforce is mostly unskilled and inefficient. Something like one American worker is worth 100 chinese workers.

      That may be true today but it won’t be true tomorrow. China are building up better factories all the time – usually by having corporations like Apple building them and then reverse engineering them.

      It is is sheer lunacy for our government to put all our eggs in China. What we need to do, if we’re not doing it already, is diversify as much as possible and look for new emerging markets, especially those markets likely to take China’s place.

      That bit I’d agree with except the delusion about emerging markets – they to are developing and will be able to supply themselves with everything that they need hence trade in the long term is dead. You can only get trade between specialists and countries, if they want to develop, don’t specialise.

      • Kevin 9.3.1

        “That may be true today but it won’t be true tomorrow. China are building up better factories all the time – usually by having corporations like Apple building them and then reverse engineering them.”

        That’s basically what Japan did – took western technology, reverse engineered, and then innovated.

        The problem is with China I can’t think of one example where they’ve actually done that.

        • Liberal Realist

          If China and it’s partners are successful with their macro-economic long term strategy, China will become the new global powerhouse.

          Below is an example, 21st century silk road.


        • Colonial Viper

          That’s basically what Japan did – took western technology, reverse engineered, and then innovated.

          The problem is with China I can’t think of one example where they’ve actually done that.

          How about this article:

          But, many executives at Chinese and Western companies contend, China’s technology sector is reaching a critical mass of expertise, talent and financial firepower that could realign the power structure of the global technology industry in the years ahead.

          “Traditionally Chinese companies were fast followers, but we are starting to see true innovation,” said Colin Light, partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers…

          But in the past decade, Huawei overtook Western rivals such as Nokia Corp. and Alcatel-Lucent SA in the telecom-gear market. Part of its success stemmed from Huawei engineers’ creative ways to upgrade wireless networks using software instead of a costly method of replacing all hardware components, according to Mr. Zhou.

          Huawei now has an R&D center in Shanghai that employs more than 10,000 engineers, many of whom have computer-science degrees. As the mobile industry deploys faster fourth-generation networks, Huawei is already working on the technology for fifth-generation networks, which could be ready around 2020.

          Huawei’s global expansion has met some skepticism. Last year, some European Union officials alleged that unfair subsidies from the Chinese government allowed Huawei to sell its gear at lower prices in Europe. Huawei denied those allegations.

          In October, when Danish telecom carrier TDC A/S announced a $700-million deal to replace its existing Ericsson equipment with Huawei’s gear, TDC Chief Executive Carsten Dilling said that he chose Huawei for its technical expertise, not its prices—adding that Huawei was “actually quite expensive.”


    • DoublePlusGood 9.4

      Given that their one-child policy stopped their population hitting 2 billion I’d say that isn’t a disaster by any means, given their already dire level of overpopulation.

      • Kevin 9.4.1

        When combined with a economy that’s based on a massive working age workforce it is a disaster.

        • DoublePlusGood

          Oh, the economy might tank. But what good is an economy if you trash the ability of the land to support people due to overpopulation?

    • Ad 9.5

      China’s population is only getting older very slowly. The far more direct economic driver remains the shift from rural villages to the cities.

      Calling China a “third-world Muldoonist economy” kind of undercooks the extent and limits of the Chinese Communist Party’s command of economic and social levers. Far be it for me to critique lefties for wanting a strong hand in the economy.

      As for “fingers in every pie”, what is wrong with that? Why is inefficiency bad again?

      On the one-child policy, the real shift is towards a consumption-led economy, and less so a manufacturing one. There’s now a far stronger safety net than previous decades, with health insurance, old-age benefits, and free schooling. What is being blunted is the remarkable Chinese propensity to save. At 40% of income, the household rate of saving has stopped rising.

      • nadis 9.5.1

        Ad – I think your view of chinese demographics is a few decades out of date. China actually has a terrible demographic problem – one of the worst outlooks in the world. Check out this graph for instance:


        China faces a double whammy – declining overall population and increasing dependency ratio.

        And a reason why it isn’t a good idea to long run bet against the US, certainly relative to China is the same demographics in US- it has the healthiest outlook of any major country.

        Labour force growth, 2000-2050

        The US has the opposite outlook – a growing population and a declining dependency ratio. In the long run, demographics are one of the key drivers of long term growth.

        And re the chinese sharemarket, the shanghai composite index is back to the level it was in late March. Not much of a crash (so far).

        • Colonial Viper

          The US has the opposite outlook – a growing population and a declining dependency ratio. In the long run, demographics are one of the key drivers of long term growth.

          That’s true in the most generic terms.

          But no corporation is treating the USA as a growth market. They do however view China as a market with a rapidly growing middle class wanting to consume modern western goods.

          US consumers are tapped out on debt, only the top 10% have benefitted economically over the last 30 years, and the evisceration of their welfare state means that the entire bottom half of Americans have next to no discretionary income to spend. Workforce participation is hovering around multi-decade lows.

          The American consumer, which comprises 71% of the US economy, is knocked out on their feet.

          • nadis

            The American consumer, which comprises 71% of the US economy

            That’s one of the most misunderstood economic “statistics” of all time. It’s an outcome of the structure of the US economy rather than any insight into what drives the American economy.

            C + G + I + X – M

            Guess what makes up C? (Clue, its not just retail sales – they are 27% of GDP)

            The C in the GDP formula doesn’t stand for Consumer, it stands for Consumption — 2 very different things,

        • Ad

          Declining working population ratio on one graph and an overanxious academic? Please.
          Plus, I was commenting on its relative important as a driver of economic growth.

          I didn’t comment on its relativity to US so no idea where that came from.

          You’re simply agreeing with me on the Chinese share market.

          Would be far more interesting if people tied commenting on some more present risks to the Chinese economy. Such as:

          – Residential property overvaluations
          – Oil commodity exposure (irrespective of barrel price)
          – The limits of strong state economic intervention and the slow eclipse of the Chinese Communist Party
          – The political and trade impact of its isolation from TPP
          – etc

          People, the share market is a distraction.

    • Save NZ 9.6

      +1 Kevin

      It is is sheer lunacy for our government to put all our eggs in China. What we need to do, if we’re not doing it already, is diversify as much as possible and look for new emerging markets, especially those markets likely to take China’s place.

      I have an even more radical thought, maybe instead of exporting our raw materials, we use our food to feed our own country, and create jobs by processing items here.

      Instead of subsidising Serco and charter schools we use that money to set up (for example) plants to process wood, plants to process fish, plants to process wool into other products. Schemes for apprenticeships, schemes for builders to build cheap state houses etc Schemes to help IT and innovation locally.

      We try to lift wages and improve productivity.

      We actually charge the US to spy here, by an agreement for example to buy x amount of produce or pump x dollars into our economy. And they can’t spy or have others spy on Kiwis or do any mass surveillance. Purely for defence purposes, not economic or political spying.

      Less food/produce miles and a more guaranteed market. We use subsidies to create jobs.

      Soon however, we won’t own the land to farm here. Quality food and raw materials will go up as our food and materials is exported and the supply chain excludes NZ and goes directly offshore.

      • Colonial Rawshark 9.6.1

        this is the kind of out-of-the-box thinking NZ desperately needs. At the moment we are too focussed on how to best manage the mess of a system as it exists today. We need to change the game.

  10. vaughan little 10

    the jury’s out on how consumption will be impacted.

    investors numbered only “roughly” a hundred million, so arguably it won’t have a big effect on the wider economy.

    michael pettis suggests that the biggest effect might be from the hit to the government’s reputation. if people stop trusting that the state has a firm grip on the economy, that might have quite a consequential effect on confidence. link here:


  11. vto 11

    stampeding out of there and into Auckland before stampeding off somewhere else sometime later …..

  12. vaughan little 12

    From Ambrose Evans Pritchard over at the telegraph:

    “Western banks say they are coming under heavy pressure from Chinese officials to refrain from negative comments. They are effectively gagged if they wish to do business in China.”

  13. Clean_power 13

    Do not despair. Timing and patience are characteristics of any GOOD investor. So, sit tight until the moment comes to buy again.

    • McFlock 13.1

      The only people despairing are those who had money spare to gamble on the stockmarket. The establishment always has the odds stacked in its favour.

  14. Rolf 14

    If you like me live in China and work as a foreign correspondent, it looks different from inside. It is absolutely a non issue. OK, people speculated, the share market went up like a balloon, popped, and came down as a stone. Did anyone expect anything else? The Chinese say, you throw a stone in the air, at some point it returns to earth, while stupid foreigners stand there gawking and think it is strange. What did they expect, that it continue forever up? Share market and all speculation is a jojo business, it goes up, and come down. Some gamblers got burned, fine, hope they learn a lesson. Earlier people speculated in the residential home market, but the government put a firm end to that. So what about the residential speculation in New Zeeland, they have done nothing. Could that be because of the famous New Zeeland corruption, that the decision makers in parliament are just those who have most to gain from speculation? Just wonder how much John Key has made on his personal residential investment.

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