China’s economy has been a historically muddy topic for Western writers to tackle, given heavy censorship laws and cultural differences between them.
As a result, there’s been fewer books on China’s economy than the growing fascination it commands from the West.
But according to billionaire hedge fund manager, Jim Chanos, there’s at least one book on China that has scaled those barriers to provide a cautionary tale for Western investors seeking success in the East.
During an interview that cycled through Glencore, green technology, and Greece, Chanos said the 2006 memoir is “a great, great story and kind of a cautionary tale. Tim and his team correctly, after Tiananmen Square, saw that China was going to be this great, booming market,” Chanos said. But “It was hard for him as a Westerner even though he had done everything right to make any money.”
“He confronted issues at every turn in China. And this has always been the illusion about China — this great market, this booming growth market — and yet profitability for outsiders has been again, illusive,” Chanos said.
Clissold did everything to embed himself in Chinese culture.
“[Clissolds] spoke Mandarin. His team in fact did all the right things. They hired the right people. They scoured the country for great investment, manufacturing investments and whatever,” Chanos continued.
But it wasn’t that easy. Chinese law and regulation wasn’t well established, and corruption still rampant.
“At the end of the day money was either stolen from him, literally money taken out of bank accounts of his companies or he was lied to or whatever the case might be,” Chanos said. “It’s just making money that is very, very difficult if you’re not specifically Chinese or wired in specifically to the various different businesses.”
Clissold one of the few Western writers who have tackled the topic Chinese economy so directly. A British writer based out of Beijing, Clissod is now CEO of Peony Capital, a fund that invests in clean energy.
Watch Chanos’ interview on Bloomberg here.