Home / China-US economic relations

Focus on China's stock market misplaced

By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York (China Daily USA)

Updated: 2015-09-23 10:06:50


The western world pays too much attention to China's stock market and needs to focus on the country's attempt to increase the role of consumer spending and services in its economy, two money-management professionals told an audience on Tuesday.

Jim Chanos, founder and managing partner of Kynikos Associates LP, and Ted Wang, chief investment officer of Puissance Capital, discussed China's economy at the China Institute in New York.

Chanos is a well known short-seller who famously issued warnings about Enron Corp in the US. Wang grew up in China and in an 18-year career at Goldman Sachs & Co, rose to co-head of US equities. He is also a trustee of the China Institute.

"Focusing on the stock market in China is the wrong thing to do," Chanos said. "Our concern is the credit situation in the country as China is still a debt-driven society."

Wang also believes there is too much discussion on the market. "The stock market is not a true reflection of the fundamentals in the Chinese economy," he said. "China is still developing a stock culture and this takes time to build."

The 48-year-old Wang noted that as a child growing up in China, his family did not have indoor plumbing or reliable electricity. "This will give you an idea of how far China has come in such a short period of time," he told the audience.

While China has made progress in building a middle class, it still has a ways to go Wang said. "China has about 145 million in its middle class who earn about $12,000 a year. That is far below the US. Consumption power is still very low in China."

Chanos has been a bear on China for about five years. "This is a capital-driven economy that is addicted to credit with new credit at two to three times the growth in the economy," Chanos said.

He noted that the government is making slow progress in reducing the amount of fixed-asset investment. "It's gone from 48 percent of GDP in 2010 to 46 percent of GDP in 2015. It will continue to be a slow and bumpy transition," Chanos added.

Wang said it is vital for the Chinese government to continue structural reforms to the nation's economy. "Despite what happened with the stock market, they can't roll back the reform of the capital markets. China must continue to see ways to direct more capital into the consumer part of the economy."