Something is going to have to give. The credit boom could presage a pick up in near-term growth, but the point is that sooner or later, the government is going to have tighten credit policy and shadow banking regulation more than it has done so far. Sooner would risk some economic growth, later would risk financial stability. It’s a political choice, which the government must feel emboldened and confident to make: five years of 5% real growth, for example, gets you to the same place as a year of around 8%, followed by four years at 4%, but without disruptive and politically sensitive consequences.
For Zeines and Hurwitz, their time in the promised land has turned out to be a little disappointing. Given the things they’ve seen, life’s long since lost the ability to surprise. With a pound of lox as a housewarming gift, I’ve come to their tax-haven sex mansion to hear their improbable story—how two sons of an ultrareligious Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn witnessed the birth of a new kind of lending, made a fortune, and then saw it all come to an end. Not in the form of an FBI raid, but with Wall Street bankers paying millions to take over the action. ... Zeines and Hurwitz made their money in a field that’s now called merchant cash advance. ... At Second Source, the best customers were the most desperate. Often they were immigrants with poor English. Brokers bragged about their biggest rip-offs. For motivation, Hurwitz would tape $100 bills to the wall. Salesmen who weren’t cutting it would have their chairs taken away. “Why are you sitting on my chair,” Hurwitz would yell, “if you’re not making me any money?”
The ranks of China’s wealthy continue to surge. As their economy shows signs of weakness at home, they’re sending money overseas at unprecedented levels to seek safer investments — often in violation of currency controls meant to keep money inside China. ... The methods include China’s underground banks, transfers using Hong Kong money changers, carrying cash over borders and pooling the quotas of family and friends — a practice known as “smurfing.” The transfers exist in a gray area of cross-border legality: What’s perfectly legitimate in another country can contravene the law in China. ... In Hong Kong, more than 1,200 currency-exchange shops have seemingly little daily activity. These brightly lit storefronts specialize in helping wealthy Chinese transfer their money overseas. The premium isn’t high — only about 1,000 yuan ($160) per HK$1 million ($130,000) more than bank exchange rates would be if they could do the transaction. ... It works like this: Chinese come to Hong Kong and open a bank account. Then they go to a money-change shop, which provides a mainland bank account number for the customer to make a domestic transfer from his or her account inside China. As soon as that transaction is confirmed, typically in just two hours, the Hong Kong money changer then transfers the equivalent in Hong Kong or U.S. dollars or any other foreign currency into the client’s Hong Kong account. Technically, no money crosses the border -- both transactions are completed by domestic transfers. ... While the first exchange has to be set up face-to-face, customers can place future orders via instant-messaging services such as WhatsApp or WeChat, and money changers set no limit on how much money they can move.
In a 52-story office tower overlooking the leafy streets of this city's embassy district, some 400 deal makers at Citic Trust Co. arrange financing for property developers, steel mills and other businesses starved for cash and shunned by China's traditional banks. ... The lenders at Citic and other institutions that make up China's "shadow banks" have created the closest thing China has to the culture of Wall Street. They take risks that traditional banks won't, going so far as to create investment funds for assets like top-shelf liquor and mahogany furniture. Their top executives drive luxury cars and frequent expensive clubs. ... Now, China's shadow banks—a mélange of trust companies, insurance firms, leasing companies, pawnbrokers and other informal lenders subject to limited oversight ... Between 2010 and 2012—a period during which traditional banks scaled back lending—shadow lenders doubled their outstanding loans to 36 trillion yuan ($5.8 trillion), or about 69% of China's gross domestic product ... At so-called trust companies, a pillar of the shadow sector, assets under management have almost tripled to 8.7 trillion yuan, making the trust industry the second-largest financial-services sector in China, after banks. ... "The future of the industry is now entirely up to the central bank's policy stance," says a senior executive at trust company Ping An.
What is the future of finance? Will Silicon Valley challenge Wall Street? Can China build global banks? ... There are few better places to contemplate such questions than Jamie Dimon’s office, high in JPMorgan Chase’s headquarters in New York City above Park Avenue. It’s now more than three decades since Dimon, the son and grandson of stockbrokers, teamed with Sandy Weill at American Express. Together they helped transform the financial industry—first at Travelers and then with Citigroup. Ousted by his mentor, Dimon became chief executive officer of Bank One, which he later sold to JPMorgan. In Dimon’s 10 years as CEO, JPMorgan Chase has delivered a higher total return than every major American bank except Wells Fargo. Dimon has also endured setbacks, such as the huge trading losses run up by the “London Whale” and more than $36 billion in settlements and fines since the financial crisis. ... In this interview, Dimon reflects on the arc of his career, names his biggest mistakes, argues that banks are more moral than markets, and looks to the future—one in which he expects to compete with fintech companies as well as the Chinese, but where he also expects banks like his own to flourish.
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Fusion analyzed an archive containing 11.5 million internal documents from Mossack Fonseca’s files, including corporate records, financial filings, emails, and more, extending from the firm's inception in 1977 to December 2015. The documents were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with Fusion and over 100 other media outlets by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) as part of the Panama Papers investigation. The massive leak is estimated to be 100 times bigger than Wikileaks. It's believed to be the largest global investigation in history. ... The results of the yearlong investigation encompass 214,488 corporate entities – among them companies, trusts, and foundations –controlled by everyone from heads of state, politicians, Forbes-listed billionaires, to drug lords, businesses blacklisted by the US government, scammers, and FIFA officials. ... Today, he says, “Panama is essentially an extension of the U.S. economy.” It harkens back to the early 20th century, when canal workers were paid in American dollars. In the roaring, free-market friendly 1920s, Panama adopted U.S.-style corporate laws. ... The move to Central America positioned Jurgen Mossack to ride the offshore banking wave that crested in Panama (and around the world) in the 1970s, when the country adopted bank-secrecy legislation designed to attract foreign money.