Ask a well-educated person which country boasts the largest equity market and you’ll usually get the right answer: the United States. Ask which country has the second largest market and you’re likely to get a range of answers: Japan? Britain? Germany?
The answer is China. In terms of annual trading volume, China's equity market has been #2 since 2009. Measured by total market capitalization, it has been #2 for seven of the past nine years....
Why should this matter now? First, because it highlights the extraordinary spread of market-based finance in a country led for more than 65 years by its communist party.... Second, because the growth in Chinese equity markets comes with sizable risks. Recent experience drives home this point.... Read More
At the third plenary session of China’s 18th Central Committee (the “Third Plenum”) in November 2013, China’s leaders adopted a broad national reform strategy (see here for a scorecard of the economic plans). Included were the liberalization of the country’s government-controlled financial system and the internationalization of its currency, the renminbi (RMB). A year ago, we argued that when it comes to freeing both its domestic and its external finances, China had a long way to go. We also suggested that the pace of liberalization would remain gradual, reflecting policymakers’ gradualist strategy to manage the risks associated with greater financial flexibility.
Well, they still have a long way to go; but the pace of regulatory change has unmistakably quickened. Authorities have been poking bigger and bigger holes in China’s Great Financial Wall. So big, in fact, that it may not be long before the wall is more symbolic than real. Read More