This photo is of Wu Lin’an giving stock investment advice to members of the public in a “street stock salon” in central Shanghai, China, earlier this year. Reuters described Wu’s investment strategy this way: “Wu, seeing himself as a senior player in stock investment, believes and advises others that the Chinese Communist Party will save the stock market and make people rich.”
The “street stock salon” has been taking place for at least a decade, on the weekends. Some people go there to promote their stock analysis software, Reuters says. The number of Chinese with margin trading accounts — in which investors are extended huge amounts of credit to bet with — has exploded so far that a street market for stock advice, and leveraged bets on equities, feels normal in China now.
But what if the Chinese government isn’t able to just step in and save the market? What if the growth of Chinese debt has a surprise in store for investors? A number of analysts this year began discussing the state of Asia’s debt, and China’s debt in particular. While they don’t think a crash is imminent, they are still pretty concerned.
China is only becoming more indebted, even as its economy slows down. By 2014, China’s total debt reached $28 trillion, according to McKinsey & Co. That is roughly half the world’s entire debt.
Here we show what’s happened to Chinese debt and why people are starting to worry about it.