August 24, 2015

Looking for some schadenfreude?

Yes, the market took a beating today.  But be glad you're not in China or Russia.
Putin’s failures are becoming more evident on a daily basis. No one denies that Russia is a kleptocratic state whose leaders have stolen much of the national wealth. But Russia has also become a pariah that breaks rules of the international order, engages in official lies, and owes huge damages in international courts. Putin’s Kremlin promotes and supports a view of the world that causes world leaders to scratch their heads in dismay.

Putin’s economic policies are a disaster. Despite promises of diversification, Russia remains a petro state at the mercy of the price of oil. Struck by a perfect storm of falling oil prices, international sanctions and self-imposed embargoes, the Russian economy is in its sixth quarter of recession with only miserly growth in sight. Living standards are falling despite Putin’s promises of stability and prosperity. The investment collapse has served to mortgage Russia’s economic future. Only Putin’s bureaucracy seems to be surviving unscathed. The vaunted reserve funds are close to being depleted. Little is left for a rainy day, and Putin’s handouts are ceasing even to his friends.
And looking to China is not much of an option for the erstwhile fellow communists;
The world financial system is at a dangerous juncture. Markets no longer believe that China’s Communist leaders are in full control of the country’s $27 trillion debt bubble, or know how to manage fast-moving events beyond their ken...

It turned into a global rout after the Shanghai composite index crashed 8.5pc on China’s “Black Monday”, pulverizing its July lows after the central bank (PBOC) - oddly passive - refused to come to the rescue as expected with a cut in the reserve requirement ratio for banks.

Beijing’s botched efforts to prop up the country’s stock markets have collapsed. An estimated $300bn of state-orchestrated buying achieved nothing, overwhelmed by an avalanche of selling by investors forced to cover margin debt.

Professor Christopher Balding from Peking University wrote on FT Alphaville that China is lurching from one incoherent policy to another, shedding credibility and its aura of omnipotence at every stage. “There is a very real risk that Beijing is losing control of the story,” he said.
America is in rough shape, but don't worry, elsewhere it's worse.

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