It’s no secret that things are getting tougher for China’s manufacturing sector as the country embarks on a difficult transition from an investment-driven economy to a model led by services and consumption. Domestic demand for metals has fallen as “idle cranes, empty construction sites, and abandoned buildings” (to quote Bloomberg) betray a sharp economic deceleration. Export growth has slowed, rail freight has collapsed to what look like depression levels, and industrial production remains in the doldrums and will need to fall far further if China is serious about getting its pollution problem under control.
Meanwhile, Chinese equities have staged one of the most impressive rallies in recent memory as housewives, security guards, banana vendors, and, more recently, farmers, flock to the SHCOMP and the Shenzhen exchange where, using record margin debt, the semi-literate hordes have driven multiples into the stratosphere and created an environment where umbrella manufacturers post 2,000% gains.
Given the above, and given the fact that credit is increasingly hard to come by for in the manufacturing sector with China’s largest banks reporting rising NPLs thanks in large part to souring loans to the industrial sector, one could hardly blame the industrialists for wanting to get in on the equity