“Instead of being the warm center of the world, the Middle West now seemed like the ragged edge of the universe,” as Midwest native Nick Carraway put it in The Great Gatsby, “so I decided to go East and learn the bond business.”
“The Great American Novel,” or so I’m told. That quote is as applicable now as it was then. With the Wild East (China/HK/Sing/Taiwan) leading the way, the world might be shaking off the rust of this recession. The Hang Seng is hitting new 6 month highs and sustained volume is now commonplace in Hong Kong, or so we’re led to believe.
Frankly there are a ton of indicators that this rally won’t be sustained. The recent profits, especially in China have come about because of significant government efforts. The banks have increased lending according to government orders. Many of the loans stand very little chance of being paid back. Non-performing loans are almost guaranteed to wreak havoc to banks’ balance sheets over the next 18-36 months. That being said, China is making its move to become the premier economic power in Asia, if not the world.
The recent monetary policies and criticisms of the U.S. can only mean just that. Combined with the recent reintroduction of the Mainland and Taiwanese economies, Asian economies stand to gain significant ground against their western counterparts over 2009 and the first half of 2010.
I only worry that we won’t remember where this whole thing started.
On another note, I’m starting to feel like I’m at home here in Shanghai. Its become apparent to me that the key to acclimating oneself to a new place is to make the place one’s own. I’ve found my restaurants, Chinese and Western. I’ve found my job. I’ve found my grocery stores. I’ve bought my BBQ (and thrown a good old BBQ last Saturday night). I’ve started to decorate my room and apartment (what’s a good price to pay for framing?). Friends are obviously important, but having a place to go HOME to, makes all the difference in the world.
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