China's stock market is in free-fall, with the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index plummeting 32 percent since June 12.
"While all Western eyes remain firmly focused on Greece, a potentially much more significant financial crisis is developing on the other side of world," writes Jeremy Warner
, assistant editor of The London Daily Telegraph.
"In some quarters, it’s already being called China’s 1929 — the year of the most infamous stock market crash in history and the start of the economic catastrophe of the Great Depression."
The Chinese government has taken several steps to stanch the bleeding, including a $19.3 billion fund created by major brokerage firms to buy stocks, but they all have failed.
China's economy now bears an eerie resemblance to the U.S. economy in 1929, Warner says. "After more than a decade of frantic growth, extraordinary wealth creation and excess, both economies — America in 1929 and China today — are at roughly similar stages of economic development."
Author Gordon Chang
is skeptical that China's government will be able to stop the stock slide. And why is that?
- "First, there was no reason for stocks to start their bull run last summer other than the central government’s announced desire to push valuations higher," he writes on Forbes.com. The Shanghai Index has returned 74 percent over the last year. "The bubble was certainly not supported by either a robust economy or surging corporate profits," Chang notes.
- "Second, the announced amount of rescue money looks woefully insufficient," he explains. The $19.3 billion brokerage fund amounts to only about 15 percent of recent daily trading volume.
Meanwhile, Canada Financial Post columnist Joe Chidle
y says China's stock drop, combined with Greece's woes and falling oil prices, spells trouble for investors. Greece has begun defaulting on its debt and may have to leave the eurozone. Oil prices have plummeted 15 percent since June 23.
"Add it all up, and we’re looking at a turning of events for the worse," Chidley writes. "The Greeks, fittingly enough, had a word for it: catastrophe."
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