When Chinese Oxford students hear the name “Jim Chanos,” they start yelling, and Jim Chanos loves it.
A Fortune writer who wanted to stir up some drama at a hedge fund party in China decided the best way to do it would be to mention the name, “Jim Chanos.”
Chanos has been loudly shorting China for months now, and after he said on Charlie Rose recently that “China’s on an economic treadmill to hell,” China bulls are especially sensitive to hearing his name.
When [the writer mentioned] the “treadmill to hell” line to the group in Shanghai, the reaction is the usual one when Chanos’s name comes up here: “What does he know about China?” the American VC asks. “Has he ever lived here? Does he have staff here? Does he speak Chinese?”
What does Chanos think about these insults?
Chanos smiles when [the writer relates] the story to him on a recent morning in New York. He knows what a lightning rod he has become.
The same thing happened to him when he was giving a speech at Oxford, and he ate it up. He told Fortune:
“Some Chinese graduate students got so annoyed with me that they started to shout me down, saying the same sort of stuff: ‘What do you know about China? How dare you say such things!’ “
Every time someone slings one of these “insults,” it’s a chance for Chanos to deliver his favourite one line zing:
He has a standard retort to those who say you can’t know China because you don’t live there: “I didn’t work at Enron either.”
With a comeback like that, it’s no wonder he likes his name being the Voldemort of China bulls and Chinese Oxford students.