Friday, October 12, 2007

The Richest Person in China

Is my age. Jesus god almighty. Apparently her father, who started a property development company in Guangdong, gave her all of his shares, worth some 16 billion dollars, making her the richest person in China. Crazy stuff; stuff that can only happen in a place as crazy as China.

Last year, the richest man in China was Huang Guangyu, who had 2.6 billion dollars. His wealth has increased by a cool billion, but he's fallen to number 10. Last year, less than half of the Forbes 40 list were billionaires, and their combined wealth was less than Warren Buffet's. This year, they're all billionaires, and the first 10 can surpass Buffet. Tells you something about inequality in China, which is already worse than in the US, and rising faster.

It seems China's wealth rankings have all the stability of world hotdog eating rankings. While I'm attracted to the idea of starting a company here and trying to cash in on this rising tide, there is definitely some bubbling happening. Half the list of richest people are property developers, and property prices around China are going gangbusters. Of course, Chinese banks are notorious for making bad loans, and the recent troubles in the US are all you need to remind yourself that these upward trajectories are anything but permanent. But for a generation of Chinese who have experienced three decades of year over year improvements, these sorts of thoughts aren't don't come easily.

If I were investing in China right now, I would be all about taking profits at regular intervals and waiting with some cash on the sidelines for when a crash does come. . .

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