What’s Really Going On In China, by Charles Hugh Smith

Is China trying to stop the easy credit shenanigans and fun and games that characterize the US financial system? From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

Losses will be taken and sacrifices enforced on those who don’t understand the Chinese state will no longer absorb the losses of speculative excess.

Let’s start by stipulating that no one outside President Xi’s inner circle really knows what’s going on in China, and so my comments here are systemic observations, not claims of insider knowledge.

Many western observers have noted the centrality of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist doctrine in President Xi’s writings. This is somewhat akin to invoking America’s Founding Fathers to support one’s current policies: if you’re trying to modify state policy in China, you have to explain it in the context of the Chinese Communist Party’s history and doctrines. Never mind if the ideals were not met; what’s important is establishing continuity and resonance with the history of China, the core doctrines of Chinese Communism and the CCP’s leadership based on those doctrines.

That said, we should be careful not to read too much into doctrinal evocations such as common prosperity, which are useful conceptual anchors and slogans but not the full story.

What’s actually happening in China isn’t Marxist or Capitalist–it’s plain old non-ideological human greed, hubris and magical thinking manifesting as moral hazard running amok.. Moral hazard— the separation of risk and consequence, as speculators make increasingly risky bets because they know any losses will be covered by the state–is effectively the new State Religion in China: everyone is absolutely confident that every punter, especially all the rich, powerful, well-connected speculators–will be bailed out by the central government.

Greed knows no bounds when a speculator is insulated from risk, for people have an insatiable appetite for risky bets when the gains will be theirs to keep but any losses will be covered by the government.

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