The Great Fall of China
Beijing Locking Up Hedge Fund Managers Now?

One of China’s top hedge fund managers was brought in for questioning by Chinese financial regulatory authorities and hasn’t been heard from since yesterday. The Financial Times:

The husband of Li Yifei, Man Group China head, denied that she was in detention. An earlier Bloomberg report saying she had been taken into custody by police in connection with the stock market probe into market volatility was “not accurate”, Wang Chaoyong, Ms Li’s husband, told the Financial Times.

“Li is in a meeting with [financial industry] authorities at the moment in the suburbs of Beijing,” he said, adding that the meeting was continuing from Monday and that “it sounds like there are a lot of people attending from foreign financial institutions”.

Mr Wang said he did not know the purpose of the meeting, adding “it’s confidential, they are not allowed to turn on their phones”. But he said such encounters between foreign businesses and the Chinese market authorities were normal and he did not appear distressed about his wife’s situation. “I talked to her yesterday morning and the day before,” he said. “I haven’t talked to her today.”

Man Group declined to comment on the situation.

Over the weekend, China locked up almost 200 people in connection with its new push to rein in “irresponsible” reporting of both the stock market crash and the Tianjin disaster. Among those locked up was a financial journalist who, according to the official Chinese mouthpiece Xinhua, has offered up a heartfelt apology, saying he “wrote a fake report on Chinese stock market based on hearsay and his own subjective guesses without conducting due verifications.”

It should surprise no one that the kind of monkey-business Beijing is engaging in, though it may have a certain political logic, isn’t curbing market volatility. Two key economic indicators were released today that stubbornly point down: Beijing’s Purchasing Managers’ Index came in at 49.7 in August, a three-year low (a value under 50 suggests a contraction of economic activity), while a similar measure, the Caixin/Markit PMI, which tracks smaller companies, was down to 47.3, its lowest value in more than six years. Markets in Asia and Europe closed solidly down on the news, and at time of writing U.S. indices were following in lockstep.

The bumpy ride down continues.

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