Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Global Markets Swoon as Worries Mount Over Superpowers' Plans

Well, my investment portfolios are going to take a hit, but they'll swing back, despite what bonehead Biden does.

At NYT, "The S&P 500 closed down 1.7 percent over a number of jitters, like China’s sputtering real estate market and the phasing out of stimulus measures in the United States":

Investors on three continents dumped stocks on Monday, fretting that the governments of the world’s two largest economies — China and the United States — would act in ways that could undercut the nascent global economic recovery.

The Chinese government’s reluctance to step in and save a highly indebted property developer just days before a big interest payment is due signaled to investors that Beijing might break with its longstanding policy of bailing out its homegrown stars.

And in the United States, the globe’s No. 1 economy, investors worried that the Federal Reserve would soon begin cutting back its huge purchases of government bonds, which had helped drive stocks to a series of record highs since the coronavirus pandemic hit.

The sell-off started in Asia and spread to Europe — where exporters to China were slammed — before landing in the United States, where stocks appeared to be heading for their worst performance of the year before a rally at the end of the trading day. The S&P 500 closed down 1.7 percent, its worst daily performance since mid-May, after being down as much as 2.9 percent in the afternoon.

The catalyst for the swoon was the continued turmoil at China Evergrande Group, one of that country’s top three developers of residential properties. The company has an estimated $300 billion in debt, and an interest payment of more than $80 million is due this week.

Analysts said Evergrande’s plight was severe enough that it would be unlikely to survive without Chinese government support. “The question is to what degree are there spillover risks within Chinese equities and then cascading into the global markets,” said John Canavan, lead analyst at Oxford Economics.

Few entities move markets the way the American and Chinese governments can, by their actions and inaction, and the worldwide tumble on Monday made this clear. Until recently, investors seemed content to ignore a variety of issues complicating the recovery — including the emergence of the Delta variant and the supply chain snarls that have bedeviled consumers and manufacturers alike.

But beginning this month, as Evergrande began to teeter and the likelihood of the Fed’s scaling back — or tapering — its bond-buying programs grew, the market’s protective bubble began to deflate. Some U.S. investors are also concerned that tax increases are in the offing — including on share buybacks and corporate profits — to help pay for a spending push by the federal government, the signature piece of which is President Biden’s proposed $3.5 trillion budget bill. Separately, Congress also must act to raise the government’s borrowing limit, a politically charged process that has at times thrown markets for a loop.

On Monday, those currents combined, reflecting the interconnectedness of the global markets as investors everywhere sold their holdings.

The decline was ugliest in Asia, where Evergrande’s woes — its shares fell 10.2 percent — dragged down other Chinese real estate companies’ stocks by 10 percent or more. Markets on the Chinese mainland were closed for the day, but Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 3.3 percent.

For decades, Chinese growth was driven by investment in infrastructure, including the market for residential property, which was financed with huge sums of borrowed money. Banks often lent to developers at the direction of the government, which looked at property building as a source of jobs and economic growth.

“Beijing says lend, so you lend; when or even whether you get your money back is secondary,” wrote analysts with China Beige Book, an economic research firm.

Many lenders therefore viewed companies such as Evergrande as having an implicit guarantee from the government, meaning that if the company couldn’t pay its debts, the government would ensure creditors get repaid...


We should be hammering the Chinese economy: Dump all Chinese listings off U.S. capital markets and retaliate against Chinese currency manipulation, protectionist trade practices, and theft of U.S. technological know-how. And if Xi attacks Taiwan, we should bomb Chinese cities and military-industrial centers and destroy the Chinese navy.

Still more.