Shares of Chinese tech giants trading in the United States struggled to pare losses Friday amid intensifying concerns over China’s efforts to impose sweeping new regulations on its publicly traded companies over the next several years, yielding market value losses of more than $150 billion for the 10 largest U.S.-listed Chinese stocks this week alone.
As of 2:45 p.m. EDT, shares of e-commerce juggernaut Alibaba, the largest Chinese company listed in the U.S., were among the hardest hit, down more than 15% on the New York Stock Exchange over the past week to $157, deflating its market capitalization to $424 billion.
Fellow online retailers JD.com and Pinduoduo, posted similarly staggering losses, wiping out about $20 billion and $10 billion in market value this week, respectively, despite ticking up about 2% Friday.
“China remains a huge source of global concern,” market analyst Adam Crisafulli of Vital Knowledge Media wrote in a Friday email, pointing to the nation’s strengthening regulatory campaign against corporations and actions that last month included demanding online education companies end their for-profit business models.
This week, shares of Chinese stocks have crashed steadily since Tuesday, when President Xi Jinping vowed to redistribute wealth in the nation by regulating “excessively high incomes”—spurring a sell-off that crushed shares of European luxury companies that do big business in China, like LVMH and Gucci-parent Kering.
U.S.-listed shares of online-gaming company NetEase, electric carmaker NIO and Internet firm Baidu plunged 11%, 10% and 10%, respectively, this week.
All told, the 10 largest Chinese companies trading in the United States have lost about $153 billion in market value since last week—more than 15% of their combined market value of roughly $940 billion.
In a matter of weeks, China has introduced harsh regulations targeting wide swaths of its economy and showing investors how risky investing in its market can be, Tom Essaye, author of the Sevens Report, wrote in a recent note. “Yes, there’s a huge market and lots of growth potential, but obviously there are regulatory risks that seem to be growing larger with every passing month,” said Essaye.
Last week, officials released a sweeping five-year blueprint for the crackdown, covering virtually every sector in its market. Then on Wednesday, China’s market regulators published a long list of draft rules targeting tech companies, barring them from using data to influence consumer choices and “traffic hijacking activities,” among other things.
“This is all a stark reminder that the current regulatory crackdown from Beijing is not going to let up,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in a Thursday note, forecasting U.S. tech stocks, which are outperforming the broader market Friday, should benefit from the tech-focused crackdown in China over the next year. “The fear with more regulation in China around the corner is a major worry that is hard for investors to digest, and it will ultimately cause more of a rotation from the China tech sector to U.S. tech.”
The Nasdaq Golden Dragon China index, which tracks Chinese businesses trading in the United States, is down 9% this week and has crashed 51% from a February all-time high.
China’s V-shaped economic rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic is slowing, sending a warning to the rest of world about how durable their own recoveries will prove to be.
The changing outlook was underscored Friday when the People’s Bank of China cut the amount of cash most banks must hold in reserve in order to boost lending. While the PBOC said the move isn’t a renewed stimulus push, the breadth of the 50 basis-point cut to most banks reserve ratio requirement came as a surprise.
Data on Thursday is expected to show growth eased in the second quarter to 8% from the record gain of 18.3% in the first quarter, according to a Bloomberg poll of economists. Key readings of retail sales, industrial production and fixed asset investment are all set to moderate too.
The PBOC’s swift move to lower banks’ RRR is one way of making sure the recovery plateaus from here, rather then stumbles.
The economy was always expected to descend from the heights hit during its initial rebound and as last year’s low base effect washes out. But economists say the softening has come sooner than expected, and could now ripple across the world.
“There is no doubt that the impact of a slowing China on the global economy will be bigger than it was five years ago,” said Rob Subbaraman, head of global markets research at Nomura Holdings Inc. “China’s ‘first-in, first-out’ status from Covid-19 could also influence market expectations that if China’s economy is cooling now, others will soon follow.”
Group of 20 finance ministers meeting in Venice on Saturday signaled alarm over threats that could derail a fragile global recovery, saying new variants of the coronavirus and an uneven pace of vaccination could undermine a brightening outlook for the world economy. China’s state media also cited several analysts Monday saying domestic growth will slow in the second half because of an uncertain global recovery.
China’s slowing recovery also reinforces the view that factory inflation has likely peaked and commodity prices could moderate further.
“China’s growth slowdown should mean near-term disinflation pressures globally, particularly on demand for industrial metals and capital goods,” said Wei Yao, chief economist for the Asia Pacific at Societe Generale SA.
The changing outlook reflects the advanced stage of China’s recovery as growth stabilizes, according to Bloomberg Economics.
What Bloomberg Economics Says…
“Looking through the data distortions, the recovery is maturing, not stumbling. Activity and trade data for June will likely paint a similar picture — a slower, but still-solid expansion.”
Domestically, the big puzzle continues to be why retail sales are still soft given the virus remains under control. It’s likely that sales slowed again in June, according to Bloomberg Economics, as sentiment was weighed by controls to contain sporadic outbreaks of the virus.
Even with the PBOC’s support for small and mid-sized businesses, there’s no sign of a broad reversal in the disciplined stimulus approach authorities have taken since the crisis began.
The RRR cut was partially to “manage expectations” ahead of the second-quarter economic data this week, said Bruce Pang, head of macro and strategy research at China Renaissance Securities Hong Kong.
“It also provides more policy room going forward, as the momentum of the economic recovery has surely slowed.”
— With assistance by Enda Curran, Yujing Liu, and Bihan Chen
This placed it near the middle of the Asian nations during the same period, with neighboring capitalist countries such as Japan, South Korea and rival Chiang Kai-shek‘s Republic of China outstripping the PRC’s rate of growth. Starting in 1970, the economy entered into a period of stagnation, and after the death of CCP ChairmanMao Zedong, the Communist Party leadership turned to market-oriented reforms to salvage the failing economy.
Financial strains among Chinese property developers are hurting the Asian high-yield debt market, where the companies account for a large chunk of bond sales.
That’s widening a gulf with the region’s investment-grade securities, which have been doing well amid continued stimulus support.
Yields for Asia’s speculative-grade dollar bonds rose 41 basis points in the second quarter, according to a Bloomberg Barclays index, versus a 5 basis-point decline for investment-grade debt. They’ve increased for six straight weeks, the longest stretch since 2018, driven by a roughly 150 basis-point increase for Chinese notes.
China’s government has been pursuing a campaign to cut leverage and toughen up its corporate sector. Uncertainty surrounding big Chinese borrowers including China Evergrande Group, the largest issuer of dollar junk bonds in Asia, and investment-grade firm China Huarong Asset Management Co. have also weighed on the broader Asian market for riskier credit.
“Diverging borrowing costs have been mainly driven by waning investor sentiment in the high-yield primary markets, particularly relating to the China real estate sector,” said Conan Tam, head of Asia Pacific debt capital markets at Bank of America. “This is expected to continue until we see a significant sentiment shift here.”
Such a shift would be unlikely to come without a turnaround in views toward the Chinese property industry, which has been leading a record pace in onshore bond defaults this year.
But there have been some more positive signs recently. Evergrande told Bloomberg News that as of June 30 it met one of the “three red lines” imposed to curb debt growth for many sector heavyweights. “By year-end, the reduction in leverage will help bring down borrowing costs” for the industry, said Francis Woo, head of fixed income syndicate Asia ex-Japan at Credit Agricole CIB.
Spreads have been widening for Asian dollar bonds this year while they’ve been narrowing in the U.S. for both high-yield and investment grade amid that country’s economic rebound, said Anne Zhang, co-head of asset class strategy, FICC in Asia at JPMorgan Private Bank. She expects Asia’s underperformance to persist this quarter, led by Chinese credits as investors remain cautious about policies there.
“However, as the relative yield differential between Asia and the U.S. becomes more pronounced there will be demand for yield that could help narrow the gap,” said Zhang.
Spreads on Asian investment-grade dollar bonds were little changed to 1 basis point wider, according to credit traders. Yield premiums on the notes widened by almost 2 basis points last week, in their first weekly increase in six, according to a Bloomberg Barclays index
Among speculative-grade issuers, dollar bonds of China Evergrande Group lagged a 0.25 cent gain in the broader China high-yield market on Monday. The developer’s 12% note due in October 2023 sank 1.8 cents on the dollar to 74.6 cents, set for its lowest price since April last year
The U.S. high-grade corporate bond market turned quiet at the end of last week before the holiday, but with spreads on the notes at their tightest in more than a decade companies have a growing incentive to issue debt over the rest of the summer rather than waiting until later this year.
The U.S. investment-grade loan market has surged back from pandemic disruptions, with volumes jumping 75% in the second quarter from a year earlier to $420.8 billion, according to preliminary Bloomberg league table data
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Sales of ethical bonds in Europe have surged past 250 billion euros ($296 billion) this year, smashing previous full-year records. The booming market for environmental, social and governance debt attracted issuers including the European Union, Repsol SA and Kellogg Co. in the first half of 2021.
The European Union has sent an RfP to raise further funding via a sale to be executed in the coming weeks, it said in an e-mailed statement
German property company Vivion Investments Sarl raised 340 million euros in a privately placed transaction in a bid to boost its real estate portfolio, according to people familiar with the matter
The Chinese property bubble was a real estate bubble in residential and/or commercial real estate in China. The phenomenon has seen average housing prices in the country triple from 2005 to 2009, possibly driven by both government policies and Chinese cultural attitudes.
Tianjin High price-to-income and price-to-rent ratios for property and the high number of unoccupied residential and commercial units have been held up as evidence of a bubble. Critics of the bubble theory point to China’s relatively conservative mortgage lending standards and trends of increasing urbanization and rising incomes as proof that property prices can remain supported.
The growth of the housing bubble ended in late 2011 when housing prices began to fall, following policies responding to complaints that members of the middle-class were unable to afford homes in large cities. The deflation of the property bubble is seen as one of the primary causes for China’s declining economic growth in 2012.
2011 estimates by property analysts state that there are some 64 million empty properties and apartments in China and that housing development in China is massively oversupplied and overvalued, and is a bubble waiting to burst with serious consequences in the future. The BBC cites Ordos in Inner Mongolia as the largest ghost town in China, full of empty shopping malls and apartment complexes. A large, and largely uninhabited, urban real estate development has been constructed 25 km from Dongsheng District in the Kangbashi New Area. Intended to house a million people, it remains largely uninhabited.
Intended to have 300,000 residents by 2010, government figures stated it had 28,000. In Beijing residential rent prices rose 32% between 2001 and 2003; the overall inflation rate in China was 16% over the same period (Huang, 2003). To avoid sinking into the economic downturn, in 2008, the Chinese government immediately altered China’s monetary policy from a conservative stance to a progressive attitude by means of suddenly increasing the money supply and largely relaxing credit conditions.
Under such circumstances, the main concern is whether this expansionary monetary policy has acted to simulate the property bubble (Chiang, 2016). Land supply has a significant impact on house price fluctuations while demand factors such as user costs, income and residential mortgage loan have greater influences.
Neil Gough (11 June 2015). “Idle Home Builders Hold China’s Economy Back”. The New York Times. By some economists’ estimates, real estate and related industries account for more than 20 percent of China’s gross domestic product
Over 30? Then you had better read on. Shein may not be a household name like e-commerce giants, Alibaba BABA-0.4%, Taobao, or JD.com, but as China’s newest retail Decacorn, its mystery-shrouded low profile is matched only by a single-minded ambition to become a global fast-fashion retailer.
Founded in 2008, Nanjing-based Shein is aimed squarely at Gen Z, luring young shoppers via Instagram and TikTok influencers and a barrage of discount codes for low-cost styles – with a dress costing just half that of a Zara equivalent, according to Societe Generale – uploading new products online in their hundreds every week.
Yet beyond its teen audience, ultra-publicity shy Shein remains largely unknown. But that anonymity could all be about to change after the Pearl River-based company became a surprise potential bidder for ailing U.K. fashion group Arcadia. While it failed in that attempt, the message is clear: Shein is ready to take on Main Street.
The story really starts at the beginning of 2012, when notoriously hard-working founder and CEO Chris Xu (sometimes known as Yangtian Xu) – an American-born graduate of Washington University – gave up his wedding dress business to acquire the domain Sheinside.com. Initially selling women’s clothing, in 2015 he renamed the company Shein, focused on overseas markets, and began snapping up fashion rivals.
Remember that age/awareness divide? Well, in the week starting September 27, Shein was apparently the most downloaded shopping app globally on iPhone, according to analytics platform App Annie. It ranked in the top 10 in the U.S., Brazil, Australia, the U.K., and Saudi Arabia.
To service the U.S. market, products are sent from Shein’s warehouse in Foshan, Guangdong province, to a warehouse near Los Angeles, Ca., and fulfillment can take over ten days, glacial by Amazon Prime’s AMZN+0.5% next-day delivery standards. But its affordability has ensured a loyal customer base, lured by an ever-changing roster of women’s clothing and accessories added at an average of 2,000 SKUs every day.
Shein is obsessed with identifying hot searches and trends in different countries to predict the colors, fabrics, and styles that will be popular, with an even faster cycle than Zara owner Inditex. It then promotes heavily with Instagram- and Weibo-friendly imagery, for accessible and attainable fashions across all its social platforms.
However, Shein’s ascent has not been without its problems. In July it was roundly condemned for having a swastika pendant available (an error for which it profusely apologized), while paid-for posts from celebrities and fashion influencers have elevated the brand’s image as well as slowly rebutting its low–cost, low–quality rap. The label even managed to sequester stars like Katy Perry, Lil Nas X, and Rita Ora for its May 2020 #SHEINTogether global streaming event.
The Emergence Of A Global Fashion Player
All this remember for a company that didn’t even have its own supply chain before 2014, preferring to buy directly from Guangzhou’s Shisanhang Garment Wholesale Market. However, faced with soaring demand, Xu created an in-house design team and within two years had assembled an 800-strong army dedicated to designs and prototyping for ultra-fast production. It also garnered a reputation for timely payment, something of a rarity in China, and as a result when Shein moved its supply chain operations center from Guangzhou to Panyu in 2015, almost all of the factories it worked with relocated.
In the same year, Shein entered the Middle East and sales soared, with revenues in 2016 rising to $617 million and exceeding $1.5 billion the year after.
Shein and the hundreds of factories that work with the company have coalesced in a production cluster bearing close similarities to A Coruña in north-east Spain, where Inditex’s headquarters are surrounded by its upstream and downstream suppliers. It has four R&D facilities in Nanjing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Hangzhou, plus six logistics centers in Foshan, Nansha, Belgium, India, and on the East and West Coasts of the U.S. It also has seven customer service centers, based out of Los Angeles, Liege, Manila, Yiwu, and Nanjing, and employs more than 10,000 people.
Future plans are thought to include the development of new businesses in mobile payments, supply chain finance, advertising, and, of course, opening brick-and-mortar stores. Whatever happens, it’s likely to do it ultra-fast.
I am a global retail and real estate expert who looks behind the headlines to figure out what makes consumers tick. I work as editor-in-chief for MAPIC and editor for World Retail Congress, two of the biggest annual international retail business events. I also organise, speak at, and chair conferences all over the world, with a focus on how people are changing and what that means for the retail, food & beverage, and leisure industries. And it’s complicated! Forget the tired mantra that online killed the store and remember instead that retail has always been dog-eat-dog: star names rise and fall fast, and only retailers that embrace the madness will survive. Don’t think it’s not important, your pension funds own those malls!
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Speaking about the global growth prospects in 2021, Dr. Devasmita Jena, Assistant Professor, Madras School of Economics states that the Chinese economy rebounded from the pandemic earlier than most other markets, thanks to early containment of the virus, and stronger export growth. Consequently, export-oriented economies Asia, particularly the ASEAN nations that are poised to become China’s major trading partners, may benefit from strong Chinese growth.
IBT: After a difficult 2020 which left the world reeling from the impact of the pandemic, how do you see global growth trending in 2021? What will be the key drivers of growth?
Dr. Devasmita Jena: Recovery in global growth has already begun, albeit moderately. In its January 2021 Global Economic Prospects, the World Bank projects global GDP to expand by 4.3% in 2021, predicated on effective vaccination limiting community spread of COVID-19 in many countries. Continued accommodative monetary policy and stimulus packages may be required to boost consumer and business confidence.
Policymakers across the globe need to support sustained growth recovery by targeting vulnerable sections and sectors of the economy hit hard by the pandemic to help boost demand. This, in turn, may further accelerate global investments and growth in 2021. The key drivers of growth will be sustained consumer demand, investment demand and revival of trade.
IBT: What impact can the emergence of the new strain of COVID-19 virus have on global GDP? What other factors could meddle with the global growth prospects?
Dr. Devasmita Jena: If the vaccines don’t work against the new strains of the virus, this could pose a bigger hurdle to global recovery. Already, the new strain has led to a rise in infections in several advanced economies, which have been forced to extend lockdowns. Some services such as travel and hospitality which have been devastated by the pandemic already will find it difficult to recover if the new virus strain proves to be uncontrollable.
Other factors that can meddle with the global growth prospects are disruptions to trade as a result of protectionist sentiments, piling up of public debt, stressed banking and corporate sector balance sheets which can drag down investments, and policy uncertainty. Moreover, disruptions in the education system in many parts of the world during the pandemic could also weigh on long-term growth aspects, given the close links between human capital formation and growth.
IBT: Global trade is expected to have dropped by 7% in 2020, according to UNCTAD. How can economies across the world collaborate in the aftermath of COVID to revive trade growth prospects?
Dr. Devasmita Jena: India needs transparent trade negotiations between countries to reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers that impede cross-border trade and disrupt the proper functioning of global supply chains. It also needs multilateral cooperation to resolve trade tensions between countries, and to reform the rules-based multilateral trading system to account for trade in services and technology. The capacity of developing countries to participate in and benefit from global trade needs to be considered so that gains from trade are fairly distributed across countries.
IBT: The US has blocked the appointment of judges to the WTO appellate committee. Do you see the US approach change markedly under Biden towards WTO, US-China trade war and trade negotiations with other countries including India? Why or why not?
Dr. Devasmita Jena: The US approach towards the WTO, under the Biden administration, will depend, to some extent, on its China policy. It is believed that the US, under the Biden administration, may continue Trump’s China policy, but with a difference. The Biden administration has already hinted that it will work with allies to target unfair trade practices by China. It is possible that forums such as WTO will see greater US-EU collaboration to push common interests, including on China-related factors. But this could also mean greater pushback from them on the agenda developing countries want to push at WTO. The Biden administration may also facilitate the appointment of judges to the WTO appellate committee. However, one may have to wait to see how the Biden administration will help in reforming and reviving WTO.
As far as trade negotiations are concerned, Biden has stated that the US will not enter into any new trade agreement till the US has made significant domestic investments. Even though the Biden administration appears keen to have stronger India-US ties, it is too early to predict whether this will translate into a trade deal or reverse the GSP termination setback.
IBT: What is your opinion on the Chinese economy’s estimated growth by 7.9% in 2021 – factors driving it and challenges? Which are the other markets that are expected to show promise in growth terms and why?
Dr. Devasmita Jena:The Chinese economy rebounded from the pandemic earlier than most other markets, thanks to the early containment of the virus, and stronger export growth. In the current fiscal year, China remains one of the few bright spots in the global economy. Export-oriented economies Asia, particularly the ASEAN nations that are poised to become China’s major trading partner, may benefit from strong Chinese growth. In this regard, the significant growth in bilateral trade between China and Vietnam trade is worth noting. As per the latest data, China’s imports from Vietnam surged in recent times which augur well for the economic growth of Vietnam.
IBT: COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of sustainable economic growth. Do you expect substantial progress on this front, or do you see the world returning to a ‘growth at all costs’ approach? Please elaborate.
Dr. Devasmita Jena:Ramifications of COVID-19 have underscored the importance of sustainable economic growth that is inclusive, as well as that, strikes a fine balance between environment and economy. COVID-19 has impacted the informal sector the hardest. A targeted policy such as extending credit, providing social safety nets and subsistence income could go a long way to alleviate the vulnerabilities in the informal sector.
Also, investing in health and education will ensure economic resilience in the long run. As the economy is going to be increasingly technology-driven, therefore, it is pertinent that policy perspectives should be such that assist rapid adaptation to technological changes. Finally, addressing climate change, investing in cleaner technology, and encouraging the usage of renewable energy will support long-term growth.
IBT: What should be the fiscal stance of governments going forward considering high levels of public debt, chances of ballooning NPAs being juxtaposed with the need to fast track growth?
Dr. Devasmita Jena:The policy challenge is to strike a balance between the risks of high public debt and supporting faster economic growth. In this scenario, it will be important to protect health imperatives, prioritize investment in education, infrastructure and technology that will go a long way to ensure growth. Also, the government should announce a fiscal glide path and enhance the transparency of budget numbers to retain the confidence of investors. In addition to this, structural reforms to boost productivity will aid growth. Such structural reforms include reforms in the banking sector which can free state-owned banks from government control, and bring down bad loans sustainably over the long term.
Dr. Devasmita Jena is an Assistant Professor at Madras School of Economics. She completed her Ph.D. in 2019 from Centre of International Trade and Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She has also worked with the Reserve Bank of India, Ministry of Finance, University of Delhi and National Council of Applied Economic Research. Her research interests include International Trade and Development, Applied Macroeconomics & Applied Econometrics.