The Charge of the Brexit Brigade

With apologies to Lord Tennyson



Half a plan, half a plan,

Half a plan onward,

To Brexit, for naught

Rode the six hundred.

“Toward Brexit, or Death!

Cash for the posts!” Dave said.

Into the Facebook page

Rode the six hundred.

Continue reading “The Charge of the Brexit Brigade”


Are China’s debts insurmountable?

China’s Local Government Bond Market, Sept 2018

A recent IMF Working Paper (file:///C:/Users/DAVID_~1/AppData/Local/Temp/wp18219.pdf) by W. Raphael Lam and Wang Jingsen covers China’s subnational bond market.

The data tables may surprise some who think they know what’s what in China. Total government debt outstanding in 2017 was Rmb29.9 trillion, or 37.7% of GDP. Of that total, the central government accounted for 45.2%, and local governments 55.2%. I assume there’s a rounding error in there somewhere.

That puts China’s subnational debt at 24.6% of GDP on average in 2013-17, compared to 25.2% in Germany and 28.2% in Canada in a slightly earlier period (1990-2010).

Who owns these bonds? Commercial banks hold 77.6%, which is an uncomfortable concentration. Retail investors account for just 4.3%. Worth reading in full.

Cost of living (it up)

It’s time for a dinner party in honor of the 60th anniversary of the Hong Kong Cost of Living Survey! Prices might have risen a bit since then, but surely not that much . . .


In 1958, a pound of top-grade rice cost HK$0.55. A one-pound loaf of bread was HK$0.47 and grouper went for HK$2.18/catty ($3.16/kg). Local pork cost $5.67/kg, live chickens were $9.88/kg and eggs $1.58/dz.

For the side dishes, white cabbage (HK$0.30/kg), spring onions ($0.45/kg) and spinach ($0.38/kg) are pretty standard. Cook it up in peanut oil, at $3.13/kg and flavor with soy sauce ($1.87/kg) and a pinch of curry powder (can’t afford much more, at $14.92/kg).

For dessert, there are oranges ($2.08/kg), watermelon ($0.67/kg), peaches ($2.95/kg) and of course, lychees ($1.67/kg).

Wash it all down with VSOP Cognac ($28/qt), Johnnie Walker Red Label ($20/qt) or Gordon’s Gin ($16/qt). If you’re on a tight deadline and need to keep your wits about you, have a San Miguel for $0.38 a pint (in quart bottles, $1.50 each).


Fun items on the US’ protectionism hit-list

Lasers, aircraft (or space) autopilots, artillery weapons (including both howitzers and mortars); rocket launchers; military rifles (yay!); bombs, grenades, torpedoes, mines, missiles and air combat ground flying simulators (we buy those from China?).

Continue reading “Fun items on the US’ protectionism hit-list”