Accusations of the West towards Putin traditionally are based on the fact that he worked in the KGB. And, therefore he is a cruel and immoral person. Putin is blamed for everything. But nobody ever accused Putin of lack of intelligence.
Any accusations against this man only emphasize his ability for quick analytical thinking and making clear and balanced political and economic decisions.
Often Western media compares this ability with the ability of a grandmaster, conducting a public chess simul. Recent developments in US economy and the West in general allow us to conclude that in this part of the assessment of Putin’s personality Western media is absolutely right.
Despite numerous success reports in the style of Fox News and CNN, today, Western economy, led by the United States is in Putin’s trap, the way out of which no one in the West can see or find. And the more the West is trying to escape from this trap, the more stuck it becomes.
What is the truly tragic predicament of the West and the United States, in which they find themselves? And why all the Western media and leading Western economists are silent about this, as a well guarded military secret? Let’s try to understand the essence of current economic events, in the context of the economy, setting aside the factors of morality, ethics and geopolitics.
After realizing its failure in Ukraine, the West, led by the US set out to destroy Russian economy by lowering oil prices, and accordingly gas prices as the main budget sources of export revenue in Russia and the main sources of replenishment of Russian gold reserves.
It should be noted that the main failure of the West in Ukraine is not military or political. But in the actual refusal of Putin to fund the Western project of Ukraine at the expense of the budget of Russian Federation. What makes this Western project not viable in the near and inevitable future.
Last time under president Reagan, such actions of the West’s lowering of oil prices led to ‘success’ and the collapse of USSR. But history does not repeat itself all the time. This time things are different for the West. Putin’s response to the West resembles both chess and judo, when the strength used by the enemy is used against him, but with minimal costs to the strength and resources of the defender. Putin’s real policies are not public. Therefore, Putin’s policy largely has always focused not so much on effect, but on efficiency.
Very few people understand what Putin is doing at the moment. And almost no one understands what he will do in the future.
No matter how strange it may seem, but right now, Putin is selling Russian oil and gas only for physical gold.
Putin – dislike the constant noise of the West – is not shouting about it all over the world. And, of course, he still accepts US dollars as an intermediate means of payment. But he immediately exchanges all these dollars obtained from the sale of oil and gas for physical gold!
To understand this, it is enough to look at the dynamics of growth of gold reserves of Russia and to compare this data with foreign exchange earnings of the RF coming from the sale of oil and gas over the same period.
Moreover, in the third quarter the purchases by Russia of physical gold are at an all-time high, record levels. In the third quarter of this year, Russia had purchased an incredible amount of gold in the amount of 55 tons. It’s more than all the central banks of all countries of the world combined (according to official data)!
In total, the central banks of all countries of the world have purchased 93 tons of the precious metal in the third quarter of 2014. It was the 15th consecutive quarter of net purchases of gold by Central banks. Of the 93 tonnes of gold purchases by central banks around the world during this period, the staggering volume of purchases – of 55 tons – belongs to Russia.
Not so long ago, British scientists have successfully come to the same conclusion, as was published in the Conclusion of the U.S. Geological survey a few years ago. Namely: Europe will not be able to survive without energy supply from Russia. Translated from English to any other language in the world it means: “The world will not be able to survive if oil and gas from Russia is subtracted from the global balance of energy supply”.
Thus, the Western world, built on the hegemony of the petrodollar, is in a catastrophic situation. In which it cannot survive without oil and gas supplies from Russia. And Russia is now ready to sell its oil and gas to the West only in exchange for physical gold! The twist of Putin’s game is that the mechanism for the sale of Russian energy to the West only for gold now works regardless of whether the West agrees to pay for Russian oil and gas with its artificially cheap gold, or not.
Because Russia, having a regular flow of dollars from the sale of oil and gas, in any case, will be able to convert them to gold with current gold prices, depressed by all means by the West. That is, at the price of gold, which had been artificially and meticulously lowered by the Fed and ESF many times, against artificially inflated purchasing power of the dollar through market manipulation.
Interesting fact: the suppression of gold prices by the special department of US Government – ESF (Exchange Stabilization Fund) – with the aim of stabilizing the dollar has been made into a law in the United States.
In the financial world it is accepted as a given that gold is an antidollar.
• In 1971, US President Richard Nixon closed the ‘gold window’, ending the free exchange of dollars for gold, guaranteed by the US in 1944 at Bretton Woods.
• In 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin has reopened the ‘gold window’, without asking Washington’s permission.
Right now the West spends much of its efforts and resources to suppress the prices of gold and oil. Thereby, on the one hand to distort the existing economic reality in favor of the US dollar and on the other hand, to destroy the Russian economy, refusing to play the role of obedient vassal of the West.
Today assets such as gold and oil look proportionally weakened and excessively undervalued against the US dollar. It is a consequence of the enormous economic effort on the part of the West.
And now Putin sells Russian energy resources in exchange for these US dollars, artificially propped by the efforts of the West. With which he immediately buys gold, artificially devalued against the U.S. dollar by the efforts of the West itself!
There is another interesting element in Putin’s game. It’s Russian uranium. Every sixth light bulb in the USA depends on its supply. Which Russia sells to the US too, for dollars.
Thus, in exchange for Russian oil, gas and uranium, the West pays Russia with dollars, purchasing power of which is artificially inflated against oil and gold by the efforts of the West. But Putin uses these dollars only to withdraw physical gold from the West in exchange, for the price denominated in US dollars, artificially lowered by the same West. This truly brilliant economic combination by Putin puts the West led by the United States in a position of a snake, aggressively and diligently devouring its own tail.
The idea of this economic golden trap for the West, probably originated not from Putin himself. Most likely it was the idea of Putin’s Advisor for Economic Affairs – doctor Sergey Glazyev. Otherwise why seemingly not involved in business bureaucrat Glazyev, along with many Russian businessmen, was personally included by Washington on the sanction list? The idea of an economist, doctor Glazyev was brilliantly executed by Putin, with full endorsement from his Chinese colleague – XI Jinping.
Especially interesting in this context looks the November statement of the first Deputy Chairman of Central Bank of Russia Ksenia Yudaeva, which stressed that the CBR can use the gold from its reserves to pay for imports, if need be. It is obvious that in terms of sanctions by the Western world, this statement is addressed to the BRICS countries, and first of all China. For China, Russia’s willingness to pay for goods with Western gold is very convenient. And here’s why:
China recently announced that it will cease to increase its gold and currency reserves denominated in US dollars. Considering the growing trade deficit between the US and China (the current difference is five times in favor of China), then this statement translated from the financial language reads: “China stops selling their goods for dollars”. The world’s media chose not to notice this grandest in the recent monetary history event . The issue is not that China literally refuses to sell its goods for US dollars. China, of course, will continue to accept US dollars as an intermediate means of payment for its goods. But, having taken dollars, China will immediately get rid of them and replace with something else in the structure of its gold and currency reserves. Otherwise the statement made by the monetary authorities of China loses its meaning: “We are stopping the increase of our gold and currency reserves, denominated in US dollars.” That is, China will no longer buy United States Treasury bonds for dollars earned from trade with any countries, as they did this before.
Thus, China will replace all the dollars that it will receive for its goods not only from the US but from all over the world with something else not to increase their gold currency reserves, denominated in US dollars. And here is an interesting question: what will China replace all the trade dollars with? What currency or an asset? Analysis of the current monetary policy of China shows that most likely the dollars coming from trade, or a substantial chunk of them, China will quietly replace and de facto is already replacing with Gold.
In this aspect, the solitaire of Russian-Chinese relations is extremely successful for Moscow and Beijing. Russia buys goods from China directly for gold at its current price. While China buys Russian energy resources for gold at its current price. At this Russian-Chinese festival of life there is a place for everything: Chinese goods, Russian energy resources, and gold – as a means of mutual payment. Only US dollar has no place at this festival of life. And this is not surprising. Because the US dollar is not a Chinese product, nor a Russian energy resource. It is only an intermediate financial instrument of settlement – and an unnecessary intermediary. And it is customary to exclude unnecessary intermediaries from the interaction of two independent business partners.
It should be noted separately that the global market for physical gold is extremely small relative to the world market for physical oil supplies. And especially the world market for physical gold is microscopic compared to the entirety of world markets for physical delivery of oil, gas, uranium and goods.
Emphasis on the phrase “physical gold” is made because in exchange for its physical, not ‘paper’ energy resources, Russia is now withdrawing gold from the West, but only in its physical, not paper form. So does China, by acquiring from the West the artificially devalued physical gold as a payment for physical delivery of real products to the West.
The West’s hopes that Russia and China will accept as payment for their energy resources and goods “shitcoin” or so-called “paper gold” of various kinds also did not materialize. Russia and China are only interested in gold and only physical metal as a final means of payment.
For reference: the turnover of the market of paper gold, only of gold futures, is estimated at $360 billion per month. But physical delivery of gold is only for $280 million a month. Which makes the ratio of trade of paper gold versus physical gold: 1000 to 1.
Using the mechanism of active withdrawal from the market of one artificially lowered by the West financial asset (gold) in exchange for another artificially inflated by the West financial asset (USD), Putin has thereby started the countdown to the end of the world hegemony of petrodollar. Thus, Putin has put the West in a deadlock of the absence of any positive economic prospects.
The West can spend as much of its efforts and resources to artificially increase the purchasing power of the dollar, lower oil prices and artificially lower the purchasing power of gold. The problem of the West is that the stocks of physical gold in possession of the West are not unlimited. Therefore, the more the West devalues oil and gold against the US dollar, the faster it loses devaluing Gold from its not infinite reserves.
In this brilliantly played by Putin economic combination the physical gold is rapidly flowing to Russia, China, Brazil, Kazakhstan and India, the BRICS countries, from the reserves of the West. At the current rate of reduction of reserves of physical gold, the West simply does not have the time to do anything against Putin’s Russia until the collapse of the entire Western petrodollar world. In chess the situation in which Putin has put the West, led by the US, is called “time trouble”.
The Western world has never faced such economic events and phenomena that are happening right now. USSR rapidly sold gold during the fall of oil prices. Russia rapidly buys gold during the fall in oil prices. Thus, Russia poses a real threat to the American model of petrodollar world domination.
The main principle of world petrodollar model is allowing Western countries led by the United States to live at the expense of the labor and resources of other countries and peoples based on the role of the US currency, dominant in the global monetary system (GMS) . The role of the US dollar in the GMS is that it is the ultimate means of payment. This means that the national currency of the United States in the structure of the GMS is the ultimate asset accumulator, to exchange which to any other asset does not make sense.
What the BRICS countries, led by Russia and China, are doing now is actually changing the role and status of the US dollar in the global monetary system. From the ultimate means of payment and asset accumulation, the national currency of the USA, by the joint actions of Moscow and Beijing is turned into only an intermediate means of payment. Intended only to exchange this interim payment for another and the ulimate financial asset – gold. Thus, the US dollar actually loses its role as the ultimate means of payment and asset accumulation, yielding both of those roles to another recognized, denationalized and depoliticized monetary asset – gold.
Traditionally, the West has used two methods to eliminate the threat to the hegemony of petrodollar model in the world and the consequent excessive privileges for the West.
One of these methods – colored revolutions. The second method, which is usually applied by the West, if the first fails – military aggression and bombing. But in Russia’s case both of these methods are either impossible or unacceptable for the West.
Because, firstly, the population of Russia, unlike people in many other countries, does not wish to exchange their freedom and the future of their children for Western kielbasa. This is evident from the record ratings of Putin, regularly published by the leading Western rating agencies. Personal friendship of Washington protégé Navalny with Senator McCain played for him and Washington a very negative role. Having learned this fact from the media, 98% of the Russian population now perceive Navalny only as a vassal of Washington and a traitor of Russia’s national interests. Therefore Western professionals, who have not yet lost their mind, cannot dream about any color revolution in Russia.
As for the second traditional Western way of direct military aggression, Russia is certainly not Yugoslavia, not Iraq or Libya. In any non-nuclear military operation against Russia, on the territory of Russia, the West led by the US is doomed to defeat. And the generals in the Pentagon exercising real leadership of NATO forces are aware of this. Similarly hopeless is a nuclear war against Russia, including the concept of so-called “preventive disarming nuclear strike”. NATO is simply not technically able to strike a blow that would completely disarm the nuclear potential of Russia in all its many manifestations. A massive nuclear retaliatory strike on the enemy or a pool of enemies would be inevitable. And its total capacity will be enough for survivors to envy the dead. That is, an exchange of nuclear strikes with a country like Russia is not a solution to the looming problem of the collapse of a petrodollar world. It is in the best case, a final chord and the last point in the history of its existence. In the worst case – a nuclear winter and the demise of all life on the planet, except for the bacteria mutated from radiation.
Yugoslav economy before the Western intervention of the proxy war, depopulation and de-industrialization of any important Slavic state and the NAM leader.
The Western economic establishment can see and understand the essence of the situation. Leading Western economists are certainly aware of the severity of the predicament and hopelessness of the situation the Western world finds itself in, in Putin’s economic gold trap. After all, since the Bretton Woods agreements, we all know the Golden rule: “Who has more gold sets the rules.” But everyone in the West is silent about it. Silent because no one knows now how to get out of this situation.
If you explain to the Western public all the details of the looming economic disaster, the public will ask the supporters of a petrodollar world the most terrible questions, which will sound like this:
– How long will the West be able to buy oil and gas from Russia in exchange for physical gold?
And what will happen to the US petrodollar after the West runs out of physical gold to pay for Russian oil, gas and uranium, as well as to pay for Chinese goods? No one in the west today can answer these seemingly simple questions.
And, this is called “Checkmate”, ladies and gentlemen. The game is over.
Original text: Grandmaster Putin’s Golden Trap taken with the permission from the Gold-Eagle (www.gold-eagle.com/)
Will the trade war between China and the United States come to end?
Authors: Raihan Ronodipuro& Hafizha Dwi Ulfa*
The recent trade conflict between the United States and China has had a direct effect on some of the world’s economic players. These two countries are attacking each other with declarations and a trade war; the relationship between the two countries can be defined as a love-hate relationship because the two countries have a lot of mistrust for each other, but they still need each other.
The United States requires China as a global source of low-wage labor as well as a market for marketing American products, and China requires the United States as an investor in its companies as well as a market for marketing Chinese products known for their low-cost. What makes these two countries to be so cold to one another? To answer the question, let’s go back to when this trade war saga started.
Donald Trump is a successful businessman who owns enterprises and corporations all over the world. His candidacy for President of the United States in 2016 poses several concerns, including whether Trump is eligible to run for office. Trump replied by becoming the 45th President of the United States, succeeding Obama.
Trump adopted a protectionism agenda in order to shield the US economy from what he referred to as the “robber from China.” Trump has released a law stating that all steel and aluminum products entering the United States from Europe, China, Canada, and Mexico would be subject to 25% and 10% tariffs, respectively. Of course, China is outraged that the United States issued this order, as well as a related policy on all tribal products. Automobile components, as well as agriculture and fishery products, are manufactured in the United States.
In addition to the tariff battle, President Trump has expressly demanded that the TikTok and WeChat apps be prohibited from running in the United States. We know that these two technologies are very common in the larger population. Giant corporations, such as Huawei, have not survived Trump’s “rampage,” with the Chinese telecommunications giant accused of leaking US national security data to China through Huawei’s contract with US security authorities.
As a result, many US firms were forced to cancel contracts with Huawei or face sanctions. Google is one of the companies impacted by this contract termination, which means that all Huawei smartphone devices manufactured in 2019 and after will lack any of Google’s services such as the Google Play Store, Gmail, and YouTube.
Many of the world’s economic organizations predict a 0.7 percent drop in GDP in 2018 and a 2% growth in 2020. Coupled with the Coronavirus pandemic, the global economy has become increasingly stagnant, with global economic growth expected to be less than 0%.
Amid the tough trade negotiations between the United States and China, COVID-19 pandemic is also affecting their relationship. The United States domestic pressure to contain the pandemic, has led Trump to accuse China of being the virus spread source. As a consequence, Trump put the US-China future relations at stake with his “China’s Virus” label. Besides, the United States absence from World Health Organization (WHO) during Trump administration along the pandemic, that become a new opportunity for China to expand its influence. China uses the Covid-19 pandemic issue as an opportunity.
China’s successful in controlling the pandemic, has also made China confident in facing the United States. Meanwhile, the United States is increasingly threatened by its position. Moreover, the United States dependence on overcoming Covid-19 which requires relations from many parties, including China, makes the United States’ position weak as a superpower.
This is what we hoped for when Biden took office. Many consider President Joe Biden to be willing to “soften” the United States’ stance on the trade war with China. After his inauguration on January 20, 2021, Biden has made many contacts with Beijing to address a variety of issues, one of which is the continuation of the trade war.
The United States and China agreed to meet in Anchorage, Alaska, on March 18-20, 2021, to discuss this issue. The meeting produced no bright spots in the escalation of the US-China trade war, but rather posed questions concerning the Middle East, Xinjiang, North Korea, and Taiwan.
The Biden administration stressed that it does not plan to abolish various regulations passed during the Trump administration’s term in the trade war with China, but it also does not intend to employ the same negotiation strategies as the Trump administration, which seemed to be very offensive. Besides, the Biden administration must be careful, If Biden prioritizes domestic challenges then China has room to push its agendas, including in the field of technology and territorial issues
Furthermore, the Biden administration’s policy has shifted from imposing tariffs on China to investing in industries that Biden believes are less competitive with China, such as nanotechnology and communication networks.
In conclusion, the trade war between the United States and China has ushered in a new age in the global economy, one in which China is going forward to replace the United States’ status as a world economic force, something that the United States fears.
The door to investment is being opened as broad as possible, the private sector is being encouraged to participate (under tight government oversight, of course), the cost of living is being raised, and the defense spending is being expanded. Today, we can see how the Chinese economy is advancing, becoming the world’s second largest economy after the United States, selling goods all over the world to challenge the United States’ status, and even having the world’s largest military after the United States.
The rise of China is what the US is scared of; after initially dismissing China’s problem as insignificant, the US under the Trump administration takes China and Xi Jinping’s problems seriously by starting a trade war that is still underway.
Will this trade war enter a new chapter in the Biden presidency, where the relationship with China will be more ‘calm’ and the trade war can be ended, or can it stalemate and maintain the stance as during the previous president’s presidency?
*Hafizha Dwi Ulfa is a Research Assistant of the Indonesian International Relations Study Center (IIRS Center) with analysis focus on ASEAN, East Asia, and Indo-Pacific studies.
The “Retail Investor Revolution” in the U.S.
Authors: Chan Kung and He Jun
Recently, the battle between retail investors and institutional investors is taking place in the U.S. stock market, with some short-selling institutional investors being driven to the brink of bankruptcy. The rise of the retail investor, which has led to huge volatility in the U.S. stock market, is nothing short of a “retail investor revolution” in a market dominated by institutional investors.
GameStop (GME), the world’s largest video game and entertainment software specialty retailer with a chain of nearly 7,000 retail stores worldwide, has continued to underperform in recent years under the impact of online gaming, with its stock price dipping from USD 28 per share in 2016 to USD 2.57 per share in April 2020. Nevertheless, since January 11, 2021, retail investors have been bullish on GME that it has soared to as high as USD 483 per share, a “crazy” move that drove Melvin Capital, a hedge fund with a large short position in the company, to the brink of bankruptcy. So far this year, short-sellers had lost USD 19.75 billion on GME, according to fintech and analytics firm S3 Partners. S3 Partners estimates that short positions in GME lost more than USD 7.8 billion on January 29 alone. The “long-short” battle between retail investors and institutional investors ended with the retreat of institutional investors.
Other U.S. stocks that have recently been caught up in the “long-short” battle have also been volatile. On January 28, American Airlines plunged after opening nearly 31% higher, closing up 9.30%. Castor Marintime, a Cypriot dry bulk shipping company, also plunged after opening with a 67.62% jump, closing up 14.77%. AMC Theatres, a U.S. cinema chain on the verge of bankruptcy, closed down 56.63% on the same day after soaring more than sevenfold in two weeks. Canadian mobile phone company BlackBerry and the U.S. fashion clothing chain Express also fell about 42% and 51%, respectively.
The U.S. capital market has long been dominated by institutional investors, and in mid-2018, institutional investors held 93.2% of the market value of the stock market, while individual investors held less than 6% of the market value. In the U.S. capital market, where institutions are the absolute majority, the market system and regulatory rules are set in favor of institutional investors. Market participants, i.e., investors (institutional investors and retail investors), regulatory authorities, and financing entities (enterprises) have formed a set of “self-consistent” system. However, the “retail investor revolution” has disrupted the conventional ecology of the market, with some young retail investors from the WallStreetBets (WSB) group on the Reddit forum throwing institutions into disarray. This “long-short” battle has put retail investors, represented by the “WallStreetBets”, at center stage and secured support from the top elites, including Elon Musk. In the face of this sudden “retail investor revolution”, the reasons and possible effects are worth in-depth observation and thinking.
First, who opposes the “retail investor revolution”?
The answer is of course, Wall Street as represented by institutional investors, who are the “establishment” in the capital market and represent the mainstream and value perspectiveof the financial market. Goldman Sachs, a prominent investment bank, saying the butterfly effect of the GME short squeeze is leading to the worst short squeeze in the U.S. stock market since the financial crisis. Over the past 25 years, the U.S. stock market has seen a number of severe short squeezes, but none as extreme as has occurred recently. Goldman Sachs warned that if the short squeeze continued, the entire financial market would collapse. According to Goldman Sachs, unsustainable excess in one small part of the market has the potential to tip a row of dominoes and create broader turmoil. In recent years, the pattern of low volume and high concentration in U.S. stocks has increased the risk of funds unwinding their position across the market.
Market maker brokers and trading platforms have also imposed strict restrictions on retail trading. In the midst of a fierce battle between retail investors and short sellers in the U.S. stock market, for example, several brokerage houses, including Robinhood, a zero-commission online brokerage, and Interactive Brokers, one of the largest online brokerages in the U.S., abruptly shut down buying of WSB related stocks such as GME, AMC, and Nokia. Robinhood said the restrictions had to be put in place because of the pressure on data processing and margins brought by the volume of retail trading. But the move immediately drew accusations from the market that the decision was “market manipulation”.
Second, what gathers a group of scattered retail investors?
According to Chan Kung, founder of the ANBOUND, the answer lies in the internet. A group of young retail investors gather in a Reddit subsection called WallStreetBets (WSB), and rely on the convenience of the internet to mobilize and convene, forming a force that can influence institutions in specific areas (such as WSB concept stocks). As in recent years, public use of social networking platforms in the social and political spheres has shifted to the stock market investment sphere.
Chan also pointed out in that the role of the internet is not only in mobilizing and convening, but also in providing and sharing quality analysis. The dominance of institutions in the stock market is not only reflected in funds, but also in research capabilities. They rely on professional teams to collect information, conduct market research, and conduct modeling and analysis, forming a certain information monopoly and an overall investment advantage over retail investors. However, the development of the internet has broken up this information monopoly. Due to the convenience of information acquisition and sharing, some small institutions and professional investors also have a high analytical ability. Their participation and sharing make the Internet platform another kind of “large institutions”, which provide investment analysis and advice to retail investors in a distributed manner. The rapid information sharing and investment actions make the retail investor cluster a “disruptor” and “challenger” that cannot be underestimated in the capital market. Chan Kung also pointed out that among the retail investors, a group of people with strong information ability will further decide the market trend in the future, and the investment in the capital market will gradually become information-oriented, and the size of the funds will not be as important as in the past.
Third, how would the U.S. financial regulators handle the short squeeze and the stock market turmoil?
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said on January 29 that it is closely monitoring extreme price volatility and will review entities that “unduly inhibit” traders’ ability to trade certain stocks. The SEC also added that extreme stock price volatility has the potential to expose investors to rapid and severe losses and undermine market confidence, and that market participants should be careful to avoid “illegal” manipulative trading activity. The SEC is working with regulators to assess the current situation and review the activities of regulated entities, financial intermediaries, and other market participants. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and the White House economic team are closely watching the stock market activity around GameStop and other heavily shorted companies. She called the trading in the video-game retailer “a good reminder, though, that the stock market isn’t the only measure of the health of our economy.” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell declined to weigh in on the activity around GameStop. “I don’t want to comment on a particular company or day’s market activity or things like that. It’s just not something really that I would typically comment on,” Powell said. This information suggests that the U.S. regulatory authorities are cautious in their stance on market volatility, but hope that the market will remain stable and compliant.
Fourth, what will happen to the market relationship between retail investors and institutions?
The “retail investor revolution” has exposed the contradiction between retail investors and institutions, and made the market relationship between retail investors and institutions the focus of the market. Retail investors are within their rights to take legal action against brokerage houses for restricting trading. In the market, it is not only the so-called “regulators” that can deliver justice. Chan Kung stressed that the real problem with institutional restrictions is that if Wall Street establishes a firewall for market trading and prohibits retail investors from uniting to make the market, then the market becomes an inter-agency market, and may even further evolve into a false trading market, shaking the foundation of the entire market system. Therefore, this unprecedented short squeeze triggered by retail investors has exposed a systemic defect in the U.S. capital market. To solve this problem, there is the need to continue observing and following up.
Remarkably, the same problem exists in China. People who speculate in Chinese stocks gather on WeChat and online forums to lead a large number of hot money to hit the market. Drawing on the example of the “retail investor revolution” in the U.S., the following questions are worth considering: Is such trading activity legal? If it is “illegal”, then what kind of market has the Chinese stock market become? If there are certain winners in the market, limits on how much the stock price can go up and how much they can go down, and, in short, all the criteria that are set internally, isn’t the market trading becoming akin to sham game? Such questions are also worth pondering in China’s retail investors-dominated stock market.
Final analysis conclusion
The historical experience shows that the enthusiasm of the market can never prevent the laws of the market from working, and that the rules formed on the basis of previous experiences and lessons are still the main keynote of the market. At the same time, one should also see that with the changes in the information world and the changes in the behavior of retail investors, retail investors are forming a force that can affect the market. Therefore, certain changes in the market system and regulatory approach as a result are likely to be a future trend.
ESG as the New Loadstar for the Global Economy
The ills of the world economy and the frequency of crises may in part emanate from a loss of the sense of direction. With economic policy rules increasingly undermined at the level of countries and international organizations, the resulting loss of an anchor resulted in a rising frequency of economic crisis episodes. Instead of the weakening norms and top-down conditionality of international organizations a new set of rules and standards is starting to propagate throughout the global economy from the micro-level of the corporate and financial world. This new moral code is epitomized in the ESG (environment, social, governance) framework, with the propagation of ESG principles taking place across all key segments of the global economy.
The buy-side is witnessing a growing volume of assets under management that is tracking ESG principles by 2020 the value of global assets employing environmental, social and governance data to deliver investment decisions has almost doubled over four years, and more than tripled over eight years, to $40.5 trillion. Sell-side research is actively advancing ESG products in the corporate research space as well as in evaluating the macroeconomic implications of the use of ESG standards. The largest corporates are starting to compete in the ESG space, with a rising importance attached to corporate ESG ratings. At the country level governments are actively elaborating the national ESG strategies and evaluating the risks and the opportunities harboured in the rising global presence of the ESG agenda.
For corporates the importance of complying with ESG principles is driven increasingly by the rising share of ESG-driven investments, most notably among the largest institutional investors. According to PwC, ESG funds are set to hold more assets under management than their non-ESG counterparts by 2025, with ESG funds’ market share projected to rise to 57% in 2025, compared with the current 15%. In effect, companies not complying with ESG norms deprive themselves of a rising share of the global investment pool, which may impart negative implications for the companies market capitalization.
There may be also notable implications for countries and companies in terms of borrowing costs depending on the resilience and susceptibility to environmental factors as climate change. According to the estimates of the IMF, an increase of 10 percentage points in climate change vulnerability is associated with an increase of over 150 basis points in long-term government bond spreads of emerging markets and developing economies, while an improvement of 10 percentage points in climate change resilience is associated with a decrease of 37.5 basis points in bond spreads.
Importantly, there are notable regional variations in perceptions and regulatory regimes governing ESG factors as revealed by a Blackrock survey of 425 investors in 27 countries with nearly $25trn in assets under management. For more than half of the respondents in EMEA (51%), the top reason for adopting sustainable strategies was because it is the right thing to do, while just 37 per cent of respondents in the region said mitigating investment risk was a key consideration. At the same time in the Americas, mitigating risk is the second highest driver of adoption (49 per cent), followed by better risk-adjusted performance (45%) and mandate from board or management (45%).
The positive aspect of the ESG agenda is that it broadens the time-horizons of the world economy, including its financial and the real sectors, and allows for longer term risks and vulnerabilities to be incorporated into the current decision-making.
The Covid crisis was the bell toll that greatly underscored the importance of such a re-calibration of the time-horizons in economic strategies away from the excessive short-termism of the pre-Covid era. There is also the greater emphasis on sustainability as the core principle that aligns the operation of the corporate and financial markets with the broader global agenda as reflected in the UN development goals.
On the other hand, the transition towards the ESG principles also involves risks that have to do with the significant differentiation across countries in terms of values and preparedness to incorporate ESG standards. Developing economies, most notably those with a sizeable share of the mineral resource sectors in their economies, will likely find it more challenging to compete with advanced economies in the speed of ESG transformation indeed with respect to environmental standards there is the risk of green protectionism being employed against developing countries. Another risk may be the use of ESG norms as the new universal rules-based framework that separates rather than unites the global community.
In the end, just as the apocalyptic predictions regarding the coming of the WTO membership for Russia have proven to be unfounded so the ESG challenge may well turn out to be a factor of creative change rather than destruction. In many respects the ESG value code aligns well with the crucial exigencies facing Russia’s economy the need for longer time horizons in economic policy-making and investing as well as greater emphasis on environmental standards and social issues. For Russia’s financial realm this is an important element related to the development of deeper and less speculative markets, more emphasis being placed on education and support for the fledgling class of retail investors, and greater transparency and higher governance standards in the corporate world.
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