Bubbles will be Bubbles


China will force its international paymasters to fund the domestic ponzi.

Officials have now unveiled some detailed rules, which seem to require foreigners, as of October 15th, to pay into China’s public scheme that provides pensions, health care and unemployment benefits.

The likely costs of the new measures are unknown. It is possible, but not certain, that foreigners will face stiffer taxes than locals. All that is clear, says KPMG, a tax consultancy, is that the law will squeeze both expats and their employers.

This would be a big change. In the past, foreigners have neither contributed to the system nor made much use of it. (Multinational firms typically offer their expats private health insurance and pensions.) Paying into the public scheme should, in theory, mean that foreigners get something back. But in practice, that may be tricky.

It’s like they already have Dear Leader-care or something–

The government may soften the new rules a bit. That is what happened with its controversial plan to promote “indigenous innovation”. In July, after an outcry from foreigners, it revoked some of the plan’s most blatantly discriminatory provisions.

Still, the climate for foreign firms in China is starting to feel frosty. Costs are rising; regulations are growing more burdensome. Local competitors are playing rough. Some, like Cosco, a shipping giant, have brazenly tried to renege on contracts. Others have used their political allies to squeeze out foreign partners. One Westerner reveals that two foreign firms on whose boards he serves have recently been forced to leave the country, shedding their assets in fire sales. China is much too big and booming for foreign firms to ignore, and plenty of multinationals are doing splendidly there. But this latest turn of the screw may not be the last.

The nine of you who still watch the nightly news, hold your oxygen tank tight–China’s broke.

China’s (current/fading) boom is just like ours: fake, only bigger.

Happy landings!