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China's Great Wall of Debt: Shadow Banks, Ghost Cities, Massive Loans and the End of the Chinese Miracle Hardcover – 7 June 2018
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One of the clearest and most thorough statements of an argument often made about the country: that its government has relied on constant stimulus to keep growth strong, an addiction that is bound to backfire. Second, he comes closer than any previous writer to covering the Chinese economy as Michael Lewis, the hugely popular
author of The Big Short, might do. His analysis is informed but accessible, animated by anecdotes and characters, some colourful, some verging on tragic . . . McMahon is among the most compelling of the many analysts who conclude that China's economic miracle will end painfully
An engaging economy lesson: human stories are at the heart of every chapter and he draws on his contacts to bring this well-researched analysis to life ― Belfast Telegraph
McMahon tracks how the former juggernaut of growth allowed its economy to become mired in debt, and the dangers this poses for the rest of the world ― Sunday Times
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His fluency in Mandarin has given him unique access to the Chinese people at all levels of society, from peasants to the highest echelons of the Chinese Communist Party, giving him an insight into the mentality of the Chinese people and their culture rarely understood by westerners. For me, one of the greatest surprises this insight brought was the inability of the Chinese government to reform their increasingly alarming debt crisis. McMahon describes how urgent Presidential calls for financial reform invoke ever more ways of circumventing the system. The government controls everything in China, but the increasingly complex financial system with its shadow-banking and private banks is making their control over the economy more tenuous.
Surprising too, are the cultural differences between China and the rest of the world regarding some of their worst business practices, such as deliberate adulteration of food and drugs. He describes many businesses with no morals about endangering health or even life in the cause of profit.
McMahon’s narrative is all the more personal with his numerous tales of farmers and property owners who have suffered at the hands of local and central government and state companies who have taken their land or homes with no compensation. Their land is used to build ever more ghost cities with vast, empty apartment and shopping complexes, parks and roads.
There is so much of interest in this book, from the reasons behind the massive debt to China’s protectionist trade policies with developing countries. McMahon describes China’s ambition to grow through the middle-income barrier to become the world’s dominant financial force, but then explains the economy is rapidly running out of steam. And how the Government is now encouraging two-children families in an attempt to fund the future health care and retirement of its ageing population.
This book is a non-technical fascinating insight into a financial world beyond most westerner’s experience, and the impact that world is having on our lives and those of the Chinese people.