Friday, June 3
Don't Forget the Sunday Night Chat
Remember that this Sunday night we will have a chat, starting at 8 PM, eastern time. It should be a little more focused than the old daytime chats where we often strayed into the subjects of movies and baseball (I just saw Pedro Martinez get his first hit since 1997, yay!), or it degenerated into a dirty joke contest. I hope to talk this week about the sectors I like and gauge the public sentiment at the moment. See you then!
Posted on June 3, 2005 at 7:45, GMT
Buying an Apartment in Beijing (I)
We've been busy looking around Beijing for an apartment to buy, but it has been a pretty discouraging time. There are dozens and dozens of new developments shooting up in the northeast corner of the city where we've focused the search, but we aren't too thrilled with what we've seen. The construction quality looks generally poor, many building sites are in iffy spots (one place we looked at was built on top of a razed chemical plant), and the sales tactics are slimy at best.
One scummy sales tactic: they show you a bunch of different crummy units and say everything else is sold out hoping that you'll settle for a crummy place. Of course there are often dozens of prime units available, but they are being reserved for friends, family, and anyone with "guanxi" (connections). You have to go in with a very fixed idea about what you want and ask for it. They'll say we don't have it; we're all sold out. Stick to your guns and say check again. And again and again. Miraculously they will discover a prime unit, exactly what you asked for originally, that you can view.
One nickel-and-dime tactic they use is to say: buy today and enjoy a 5% discount... if you don't buy today you will never be offered a discount again. Another one is: buy today or the price per square meter will go up X amount tomorrow. These are lame, high-pressure sales tactics which should never be used on buyers who are considering a multi-hundred thousand dollar purchase.
People ask me why I didn't stay in China years ago to do business given my language skills and understanding of the culture, and I explain that it is exactly because I understand the culture that I couldn't stomach it: No one who is a straight shooter could thrive (or possibly even survive) in this country.
Posted on June 3, 2005 at 7:30, GMT
Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite
You may be wondering why the Shanghai Composite is making a new eight-year low when the economy is booming here. The answer is that the vast majority of companies listed on the exchange are terrible state-owned firms that no sane investor would buy at any price.
Shanghai Composite, Monthly Chart
Posted on June 3, 2005 at 7:00, GMT
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