The unbearable turbulence of Chinese shares

Updated: 2015-08-25 08:06

By Zhu Qiwen(China Daily)

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The unbearable turbulence of Chinese shares

An investor watches an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage office in Hangzhou city, Zhejiang province, Aug 21, 2015.[Photo/IC]

Have all the efforts Chinese policymakers made to save the once-10-trillion-dollar domestic stock market from falling over the cliff since early July come to nothing with the country's benchmark Shanghai Composite index ending with the sharpest fall since early 2007 on Monday?

That is a mind-bending question for not only tens of millions of individual stock investors in this country, but also Chinese officials who are desperate to steer the world's second-largest economy through a year of increasing uncertainties.

Following a poor week that saw an 11-percent drop in its market value, Chinese stocks nosedived again on Monday with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index plummeting 8.49 percent to close at 3,209.91 points, the sharpest decline in more than eight years.

Amid growing international worries over the health of the Chinese economy, a long-term source of growth for the global economy, it is predictable that the latest plunge in Chinese share prices will send another chill down the spine of overseas investors after a broad sell-off in global markets wiped trillions of dollars off stock values last week.

Given the dire consequences of panic sales that could wreak worse havoc than expected on investors as well as the national economy, it is absolutely necessary for the Chinese authorities to come up with more and stronger supportive measures to arrest the downward spiral of share prices.

Yet, while emergency measures are well justified to stop the hemorrhaging of the stock market, it does not mean policymakers should shore up equity prices at any cost. Instead, policymakers should try to find a workable middle path after first identifying the real causes behind the plunge of share prices.

Domestically, the continuous slowdown of the Chinese economy has apparently eroded away investor confidence that was first overinflated by a year-long rally from below 2,000 points to more than 5,000 points in June and then extremely dampened by a 40-percent correction in the past two months. If such turbulence in Chinese shares cannot be timely and effectively dealt with, the likely contagion of pessimism from the stock market will only exacerbate the difficulties for the Chinese economy to bottom out any time soon.

Globally, the confluence of negative factors such as falling share prices, volatile exchange rates, disappointing commodities prices indicates that the global recovery may be in for a moment of reckoning even before the United States actually raises interest rates for the first time in almost a decade.

If there is a silver lining in the cloud over stock markets around the world, it should be that it is a wake-up call for global policymakers to recognize the need for joint efforts to address rising uncertainties about global growth as well as global financial stability.

The author is a senior writer with China Daily.