Category Archives: China

Letter from Guangxi

The second week of my recent China trip was spent in the hot, green and rapidly developing southern province of Guangxi. * My trips to China are usually to the Tier 1 cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and more rarely to Guangzhou. In these places you see the full achievement of the country’s remarkable economic development.… Continue Reading

Some modestly good news in the energy world

The BP Statistical Review of World Energy was published last week. It contains two pieces of particularly encouraging information. First. in 2015 coal demand fell sharply. Second, carbon emissions from energy rose at the slowest rate for 25 years (other than the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis). The report is summarised by BP’s group chief… Continue Reading

Why Hinkley Point C is in trouble

The world’s most expensive power station project, a new nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point C in the UK, still hasn’t reached financial close, despite backing from the UK, French and Chinese governments. It might be best for the UK if it never does. The full story is told in my new book The Fall and… Continue Reading

Markets versus economics

The turbulent financial markets in early 2016 can be seen as a battle between two groups of ideas – the economists see little reason for sudden concern but the markets are worried about hidden risks * Global stock markets performed worse in the first few weeks of 2016 than in living memory. Since markets are supposed… Continue Reading

The IMF includes the RMB in the SDR basket

On 30 November 2015 the IMF voted to include the RMB (the Chinese “people’s currency” denominated in yuan) in the basket of currencies it uses to calculate the value of the Special Drawing Rights, from October 2016. This is largely symbolic but should encourage further international financial reform in China. * What does it actually… Continue Reading

Global foreign reserves are now falling

The foreign exchange reserves held by governments, having risen for over a decade, have recently fallen. This is mainly because they are being used, as intended, to protect against turbulence in financial markets that would otherwise hurt the developing economies. * Foreign reserves are assets held by governments as a safety net against abrupt changes… Continue Reading

Greece repays IMF using the IMF’s own “currency”

Greece this week repaid €750m to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which it funded by drawing on its SDR account at the IMF. This legitimate but unusual move caught many commentators by surprise and drew attention to the little known SDR. * The SDR – Special Drawing Right – is something of a curiosity in… Continue Reading

Still debating the causes of the world financial crisis

Major world historical events such as the financial crisis that swept much of the world in 2007-09 typically have multiple causes. In 2014 there was an outpouring of new books about the causes of the First World War which started a century before. Historians continue to disagree about why the nations of Europe went to… Continue Reading

Western capitalism is no longer working well for most people

Since the collapse of communism, capitalism in its various different flavours is the only realistic option for countries wanting high living standards. But the US/UK variant is failing to deliver mass prosperity, which threatens to undermine it and generate a potentially ugly backlash. * The US, Sweden and Japan are all capitalist societies, meaning that… Continue Reading

Interview in China Daily on the possible Chinese investment in new British nuclear plant

UK nuclear plant may be a game changer  China Daily is an English language newspaper, available in many hotels in China and published abroad. It’s often seen as a window (sometimes a rather opaque one) into Chinese government thinking, as it comments on policy, often in a fairly critical way. I was interviewed in Beijing… Continue Reading