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The Times Misses The Distinction Between Britain’s Economy And Britain’s Stock Market

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The Times gives us the most dreadful nonsense about how the Yellow Peril – that’s China these days, not Japan – is buying up the British economy. In doing so they fail to distinguish between things that are part of British stock markets and things that are part of the British economy. This being a fairly important mistake to make as a goodly 75% of the upper tier of the British stock market has sod all to do with Britain’s economy. Fairly important that:

Chinese investors have amassed a portfolio of UK businesses, infrastructure, property and other assets worth nearly £135 billion, almost twice as much as was previously suspected, an investigation reveals today.

The swift and largely unnoticed buying spree includes at least £44 billion of purchases by Chinese state-owned entities.

More than 80 of the 200 investments uncovered by The Sunday Times have taken place since 2019 as relations between Britain and China have grown increasingly tense.

The investigation found that Chinese and Hong Kong companies or investors own…

Cue slant eyed commies and frothing at the mouth etc. Except:

Err, no. Some 75% of the revenue in the FTSE 100 comes from business conducted outside the UK. Some 50% of the FTSE 250 similarly. The stock markets in Britain are not the British economy that is. We make a margin handling the capital markets for other places that is, this is not purely or even largely trading in our own economy.

So, how much Jonny Foreigner owns of the London market isn’t an important point – slant eyes and chopsticks or no.

HSBC is listed in London for example. It’s “HongKong and Shanghai Bank”. Seems reasonable that some Chinee or HKites might own a bit without causing conniption fits. In the FTSE 250 there are three Baillie Gifford (two Japan, one US) investment trusts. We’re worried that Chinee come to Britain to buy stock in Japan? Centamin mines gold in Arabia. Fidelity has a China investment trust listed. Someone – from wherever – buying into the Oriental Income Fund is a worry for the British economy?

The Times has entirely missed that London actually is the world’s global financial capital. Which does mean that what’s quoted on the exchanges here simply isn’t the same thing as the British economy.

Sigh.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. On a point of fact, the Yellow Peril has always been China. The term dates back to the nineteen-twenties. Check out “The Yellow Man Looks On” by Hedley Chilvers which starts out as a history of the Anglo-Boer war and deviates into global politics.

    • Nope, coined in 1897 by the Russian sociologist Jacques Novikow in the essay “Le Péril Jaune”.

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