The Real State of Play in China

Featuring Fraser Howie

Author and independent analyst on China, Fraser Howie has spent 25 years working in the financial sector in Asia, examining how financial markets work and how the Chinese government approaches imbalances in the system. Fraser sees the future risks for China skewed to the political side, rather than economics, with an eye on Trump’s rhetoric and discusses the real meaning of reform for the Communist Party government.

Filmed on December 28, 2016 in Singapore

Published on
6 February, 2017
China, Politics, Financial System
40 minutes
Asset class
Currencies, Equities


  • BM

    Bryan M.

    18 2 2017 05:50

    1       0

    I didn't bother watching this at first because I thought it would not be of onterest.
    I was wrong.
    In fact I will have to listen again, as I know I missed a lot.
    Great presentation...

  • XC

    Xiao C.

    14 2 2017 10:24

    4       0

    I must say he really understands China. You must be able to deal with unanswered questions if you want to deal with China. Obsession with control and the determination to achieve certain stated goals at all cost is two hallmark of China!

  • gb

    gabriel b.

    10 2 2017 07:12

    3       0

    Really loved this. I liked his ability to simply make observations while saying he doesn't know what to make of them sometimes.

  • PD

    Philip D.

    9 2 2017 14:48

    3       0

    Great interview & analysis...but I couldn't help but think of Karl Pilkington watching him:

  • RW

    Ross W.

    9 2 2017 11:48

    12       0

    So, as I understand it..... corrupt, semi-communist, kleptocrat government with no diplomacy stumbles drunkenly from one crisis to the next, sweeping the pieces under the rug as it goes and judiciously handing out free money for dubious means?

    Enough about the EU though, what's going on in China anyway?

  • IV

    Ian V.

    8 2 2017 00:24

    2       0

    Great perspective. Interesting how in China, people don't expect stability in partnerships/agreements necessarily. Everything is in play at all times, anything can change. I always felt that the real currency in China is leverage (not the debt kind). In my opinion, agreements have no intrinsic meaning - it's all about the leverage scoreboard and what that drives in behavior at each moment. It's all about running a Leverage "surplus" too. I think that's the place that "market forces" do rule in China - the "market" for leverage between people, it seems to have well-defined rules, conventions, enforcement and accurate accounting.

  • MM

    Mathew M.

    7 2 2017 23:20

    4       0

    Brilliant interview. Enjoyed hearing the perspective of someone who has long lived and worked in China. All is apparently not what it seems. Please have him back again. Thanks

  • RA

    Robert A.

    7 2 2017 22:10

    5       0

    Great job RV to get us someone who knows China (and to paraphrase him "as well as anyone else") and that is not an investor. Some nice takeaways in this gem of an interview!

  • RP

    Ron P.

    7 2 2017 13:57

    4       0

    The way he describes how the government of China can set up companies and control how much debt they should take on is scary. It does make you think that it is just one big communist country disguised as a semi free market

  • SC

    Sajad C.

    7 2 2017 10:04

    0       0

    The perception is that the Casino like Chinese stock market is like the Dot Com market of 1999, we have seen some volatility in 2015, how will this play out. This author maybe able to shed some light.

  • SC

    Sajad C.

    7 2 2017 09:59

    0       0

    Interesting to listen to an opinion from the heart of China from someone with a real understanding of the mechanics of a system shrouded in secrecy. Pakistan, Africa the Chinese have huge investments,

  • EM

    Ewan M.

    7 2 2017 05:04

    2       1

    China has no friends. That's true, look at their predatory lending in Africa and across Asia.

  • SD

    Stephen D.

    7 2 2017 04:47

    15       0

    Fraser Howie has a deep knowledge of the country, but what I admire most is that, a self admitted Sinophile, he maintains a remarkable degree of objectivity about the place. Many pearls of widom here, my personal favourites being "The Communist Party seeks efficacy not efficiency" and, best of all:
    "All Chinese partners are bad partners." How true.

  • SD

    Stephen D.

    7 2 2017 04:47

    4       0

    Fraser Howie has a deep knowledge of the country, but what I admire most is that, a self admitted Sinophile, he maintains a remarkable degree of objectivity about the place. Many pearls of widom here, my personal favourites being "The Communist Party seeks efficacy not efficiency" and, best of all:
    "All Chinese partners are bad partners." How true.

  • RP

    Ron P.

    7 2 2017 00:30

    12       0

    Finally a guy that I can both Understand AND belive on china
    This guy should be the official Real Vision go to on China. Please bring him back!
    Efficay over Efficiency

  • AS

    Aaron S.

    7 2 2017 00:29

    6       0

    Loved this video. I do feel that we're once again hearing the argument that devaluation "can't" happen because "it would be too destabilizing and the central government of China would lose the perception of control?" Geo-politically speaking; isn't that precisely what "happens" to China historically? China swings back and forth between unification and fractionilization. This seems like precisely the kind of thing that would cause a move away from centralization for China.

    Even if that's not what ends up happening, the argument that it "can't" because "they can't let it" just doesn't follow to me. Reminds me of a Sherlock Holmes quote about deductive reasoning.

  • KC

    Klendathu C.

    6 2 2017 23:40

    19       0

    First off, regardless of what I say, I thought this was a wonderfully nuanced interview/analysis on China. But I really hate how "China is not going to have a Lehman moment" has become a common phrase. When Sealand securities defaulted on its TBRs the central authorities had to bring all of its creditors into a room and would not let them leave till a deal was negotiated. That event was very reminiscent of LTCM's bailout. And yet LTCM was a much bigger firm. Sealand securities is just a medium size firm with tens of billions in assets. China may not have a "Lehman moment" but given the way the economy is churning out debt, it is becoming increasingly likely that there will come a time when massive losses are imposed all at once. And to Mr. Howie's credit he doesn't deny that possibility. But just because the central authorities can bring everyone into a room, and crack heads, does not mean, there will not be massive losses imposed all at once. CHEERS!

  • DS

    David S.

    6 2 2017 19:50

    4       1

    Excellent interview. Mr. Howie is very practical in the Western sense. The Chinese are also very practical in the Oriental sense. It is interesting to see how often these practical points of view diverge. I watched this interview twice and will watch it again over time. It is full of insights that will take me more time to understand. Please invite Mr. Howie back again. I would love to here his analysis on American actions in six months. DLS

  • SB

    Sam B.

    6 2 2017 18:16

    4       1

    Fantastic interview... always a pleasure to listen to an erudite Scotsman. He makes great points about Trump's anachronistic view of China and on the CNY devaluation issue. I think he's right that the Chinese establishment doesn't want to devalue all at once. However, my own opinion is that the shrinking eurodollar market will force them into a large one-off deval ultimately.

  • rr

    rlw r.

    6 2 2017 17:58

    2       0

    Excellent objective and rational assessment, more please.

  • RM

    Richard M.

    6 2 2017 16:24

    2       0

    Very nice enlightening inside look at China - good job RVTV!

  • VK

    Viresh K.

    6 2 2017 16:03

    0       0

    Good summary.

  • AA

    Aymman A.

    6 2 2017 15:51

    3       1

    Great interview

  • AS

    Andrew S.

    6 2 2017 14:40

    10       0

    Fantastic interview. Captures the Chinese debt conundrum beautifully. Thanks