Who’s Talking about The Gray Rhino in China

Pointing to the existence of a gray rhino -a highly probable, high impact danger that nevertheless is being neglected, downplayed, or outright ignored- is a way to create a sense of urgency toward addressing it before panic sets in. Senior Chinese officials have used the term extensively for exactly this purpose for issues from financial risk to US tax policy to urban fire safety, earning it a spot on the “Top Ten New Terms of the 2017 Chinese Media” list compiled by China’s National Center for Language Resource Monitoring and Research in December 2017.

China’s President Xi Jinping keeps a copy of the Chinese edition of THE GRAY RHINO on his bookshelf, where media commentators noticed it during his 2018 New Year’s Day Speech, and has discussed the gray rhino with senior economic policy makers.

A reference to the gray rhino on the front page of People’s Daily in July 2017 following the National Financial Work Conference sent the prices of risky stocks down more than 5 percent in a day. The concept influenced Chinese policies on heavily indebted companies (covered on the front page of The New York Times) whose aggressive overseas expansions the government reined in.

In a much-commented-upon essay posted on the central bank’s website in November 2017, People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan warned that China faced many gray rhinos, three in particular: macro-level financial high leverage and liquidity risk; credit risk including non-performing loans and increasing bond market credit defaults; and finally, shadow banking and criminal risk.

Cai Qi, secretary of the Beijing Municipal Communist Party Committee, referred to urban safety as a gray rhino after the tragic Daxing apartment fire in November 2017.

Senior Chinese officials told The Wall Street Journal in December 2017 that the US tax reform was a gray rhino threat to China, and raised interest rates in response to it.

China Banking Regulatory Commission director Guo Shuqing told People’s Daily in January 2018 that gray rhinos and black swans threaten China’s financial stability.

At Davos in January 2018, Fang Xinghai, vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), the nation’s stock market regulator, warned that China’s debt was a gray rhino, again generating headlines worldwide.

Shortly afterward, Fan Hengshan, vice secretary general of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country’s top economic planning agency, warned in a commentary in the state-controlled Beijing Daily that the year to come faced many gray rhinos.

Baidu Baike, China’s largest online encyclopedia, explains the gray rhino and its evolution in China.

Read more below for additional detail on recent gray rhino coverage from China.

Close to retiring, China’s central-bank chief warns of financial riskThe Economist. November 9, 2017.

China’s Central Bank Governor Warns About Financial Risks — AgainThe Diplomat, November 9, 2017.

Chinese Banks Enjoy Few Bad Loans But Central Bank Warns Of Risks Forbes, November 11, 2017.

Hidden Debts Accumulate at Local LevelsCaixin Global. December 27, 2017.

Beating Targets: China’s Economy Grew 6.9 Percent in 2017The Diplomat, January 18, 2018.

China eyes black swans, gray rhinos as 2018 growth seen slowing to 6.5-6.8 percent: media. Reuters, January 29, 2018.

Use your browser to translate the following links from Chinese.

Zhou Xiaochuan: China must be vigilant “black swan” and “gray rhinoceros.” Gold Network. November 5, 2017.

Debt, shadow banking, capital market volatility, “gray rhinoceros” are moving toward China? qq, November 10, 2017

Zhong Wei: Considering Grey Rhino, China Should Balance Overall Gradual Reforms and Partial Radical Reforms. qq. November 16, 2017.

Exchange currency “gray rhinoceros” annual inventory. Gold Network. November 24, 2017

Ren Guanqing. The Greatest “Gray Rhinoceros”: an interview with Michele Wucker author of the Gray Rhinoceros Phoenix New Media, November 30, 2017.

Yearender: China moves to tame its “gray rhinos.” Xinhuanet. December 17, 2017

The Gray Rhino on FT Alphachat

I enjoyed talking with the FT’s Matt Klein about why we don’t deal with problems we see in advance – and how to fix it- on the January 18, 2018 edition of FT Alphachat, the conversational podcast about business and economics produced by the Financial Times in New York. Each week, FT hosts and guests delve into a new theme, with more wonkiness, humour and irreverence than you’ll find anywhere else.

LISTEN HERE.

The Gray Rhino on Xi Jinping’s Bookshelf

After Chinese President Xi Jinping’s annual New Year’s address, it has become an annual tradition for Chinese media to scour his bookshelf for new titles. In 2018, the new books include The Gray Rhino: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore, which was released in China in February 2017.

Other new economics books include textbooks on ecological economics, W.W. Rostow’s 1960 classic The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto, and Money Changes Everything by William N Goetzmann. The bookshelf also included texts on understanding artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and machine learning, including The Master Algorithm by Pedro Domingos and Augmented by Brett King. Very good company!

Read the whole list here in Shanghaiist or, if your Chinese (or your browser translator) is good, a longer article on qq.

The Gray Rhino Goes Global

The gray rhino has continued its charge around the globe, with a front page, above the fold article in The New York Times July 23, 2017: “Let the West worry about so-called black swans, rare and unexpected events that can upset financial markets. China is more concerned about “gray rhinos” — large and visible problems in the economy that are ignored until they start moving fast.”

Here’s a roundup of some recent media coverage of China’s effort to crack down on its financial gray rhinos, including liquidity and credit risks, shadow banking, abnormal capital market fluctuations and real estate bubbles:

China ignores the ‘grey rhino’ threats to its economy at its own peril Andrew Sheng, South China Morning Post, July 21, 2017

From black swans to gray rhinos, Andrew Sheng, The Star (Malaysia), July 22, 2017

In China, Herd of ‘Gray Rhinos’ Threatens Economy  Keith Bradsher and Sui-yee Lee, The New York Times, July 23, 2017

Beware the ‘grey rhinos’ of economic risk or ‘prepare for pain’, analyst warns China Sidney Leng, South China Morning Post, July 23, 2017

Watch out for ‘grey rhino’ in jungle of financial risksChina Daily, Jul 24, 2017

The $180 million conflict that kept Scaramucci out of the White House in January has only gotten shadier Linette Lopez, Business Insider, July 24, 2017

Wanda Swears Off Overseas Deals after Xi Exchange, Greg Isaacson, Mingtiandi, July 25, 2017

China’s Communist Leaders Focus on ‘Grey Rhino’ Private-Sector Risks Alex Frew McMillan, MarketWatch, July 26, 2017

Hunting rhinos: What Dalian Wanda saga says about China  Karishma Vaswani, BBC News, July 26, 2017

Interview: Environment, resource constraints biggest “gray rhinos” in China: author
Xinhua, July 27, 2017

CINA. I tre rinoceronti grigi di Pechino. Graziella Giangiulio, Stampa (Italy), July 27, 2017

China to crack down on ‘gray rhino’ risks Li Xuanmin, The Global Times, July 30, 2017

Los cuatro ‘rinocerontes grises’ que amenazan con embestir al mercado Victor Blanco Moro, El Economista (Spain)  July 30, 2017.

Chinese Government Concerned about ‘Gray Rhino’ [VIDEO] World Insight with Tian Wei, CGTN, August 3, 2017

China Steps Up Warnings Over Debt-Fueled Overseas Acquisitions By Sui-Lee We. The New York Times. August 18, 2017

 

The Gray Rhino Rattles Chinese Stocks

In front-page commentary published July 17th, 2017, People’s Daily, the official newspaper of China’s Communist Party, warned of the need to avert highly obvious “gray rhino” risks as well as rare and unpredictable “black swans.” The commentary rocked China’s stock markets and signaled a new policy direction intended to more aggressively address obvious financial risks.

The article said that China should “strictly prevent risks from liquidity, credit, shadow banking and abnormal capital market fluctuations, as well as insurance market and property bubbles.”

Taking the commentary as a sign that regulators would crack down on speculation, investors immediately dumped small-cap stocks, seen as more likely to carry debt that could become unmanageable. “China’s small-cap Shenzhen index plunged 4.3% on Monday. The ChiNext, which focuses on high-tech companies, plummeted 5.1% and closed at its lowest point since early 2015,” noted CNN Money.

The timing of the People’s Daily article was particularly telling, immediately following last week’s National Financial Work Conference, a key policy strategy session that occurs every five years. This year the conference created a “super-regulator,” intended to improve the country’s ability to tackle a financial crisis, that merged four existing supervisory watchdog. It also strengthened the central bank’s powers.

A few hours after the People’s Daily article appeared, new data showed the Chinese economy re-accelerating.

The Chinese government’s embrace of the gray rhino language generated widespread media coverage.

“The unusual zoological turn of phrase in the Party’s language could… hint at a genuine effort to re-energize its long-drawn-out regulatory clampdown,” Sunny Oh wrote for Marketwatch.

Similarly, ZeroHedge noted, “[I]n a surprising case of forward-looking prudence, the Chinese government is doing what numerous Fed members have also done in recent weeks, by setting a surprisingly wary tone about risk, demonstrated best by the front page commentary in the People’s Daily.”

Former Dallas Fed chief Richard Fisher referred to gray rhino risks on Squawk on the Street Monday.

Here’s some other notable coverage:

What’s a ‘gray rhino’ and Why Did It Cause Chinese Stocks to Drop? CNN Money, July 17, 2017
       ¿Por qué un ‘rinoceronte gris’ causó la caída de las acciones en China?
        ‘Tê giác xám’ ?ang ?e d?a th? tr??ng Trung Qu?c VNExpress (Vietnam)
        Piyasan?n yeni korkusu: Gri gergedan BusinessHT (Turkey)

China’s Economy Charges On as Officials Target the Risk ‘Rhino’ Bloomberg News, July 17, 2017
       China economy charges on as leaders target the risk `Rhino’ The Peninsula (Qatar), July 18, 2017

Why China Fears “Gray Rhino” Risk to Fragile Financial System Marketwatch, July 17, 2017

When a ‘Black Swan’ Will No Longer Do ZeroHedge, July 17, 2017

Xi’s Risk-off Push Ripples Through China as Transition Nears Bloomberg News, July 18, 2017

China Sentences to Ponder, Gray Rhino Edition Marginal Revolution, July 18, 2017

Beijing Watches Out for “Grey Rhino” and “Black Swan” in Jungle of Financial Risks South China Morning Post, July 19, 2017

People’s Daily Reference to the Gray Rhino -What Is It? jrj.com (Chinese Simplified Characters), July 19, 2017

China Ignores Gray Rhino Threats to its Economy at its Own Peril Andrew Sheng, South China Morning Post, July 21, 2017

Keeping Financial Risks at Bay, China Daily, July 20, 2017

Gray Rhinos, Game of Thrones, and TV’s Golden Age People & Profit, France24, July 21, 2017

 

THE GRAY RHINO Taiwan edition

THE GRAY RHINO is now available in Taiwan via Commonwealth Books.

Zhang Bo Song reviewed the book on Inside: “One of the hottest topics of the year is the Grey Rhino. If you don’t understand what the gray rhino is and what’s the difference with a black swan, be sure to take a look at this book. Because you don’t want to wait until the grey rhino is charging at you: you want to act.”

Economic Daily: Don’t Turn a Blind Eye to a Gray Rhinoceros Crisis April 17, 2017

Tai Zhong, DWNews Taiwan  “Gray Rhinoceros Phenomenon and Taiwan government” April 26, 2017 “In April 2017, the financial book “The Gray Rhino: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore” caused the attention of Taiwan’s people, Then “gray rhinoceros” following the “black swan,” became a common word on the media.”

Korea and China editions of THE GRAY RHINO

 

THE GRAY RHINO: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore is now available in China via Citic Publishing Group and Korea via Business Books and Co.

Read more at these links (you may need to use your browser’s translate option.)

Review in Korea Economic Daily
Maeil Business Newspaper -Cover Story
Rednet coverage of THE GRAY RHINO

THE GRAY RHINO was published in Hungary in Fall 2016 via Athenaeum, and Taiwan and Norway editions are in production.

Introducing www.thegrayrhino.com

The launch of my latest book, THE GRAY RHINO: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore (St Martin’s Press), kept me very busy in 2016, with appearances in New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Phoenix, London, Luxembourg, and Oslo.

I’ve also been working on turning the concept and framework introduced in the book into keynote speeches, workshops, and practical tools for companies, policy makers, and individuals to use in making better decisions that will help them avoid preventable but too often overlooked “gray rhino” problems.

It’s very, very exciting to formally launch Gray Rhino & Company through its very own brand new website, thegrayrhino.com. The site includes blogs about geopolitical gray rhinos as well as behavioral tools to help with gray rhinos at work or home. Along with my own thoughts, the site hosts guest commentary. It also has multimedia resources, including video, audio, slides, and e-books.

Please visit the site, take a look around, and let me know what you love (or hate!). I’m open to suggestions, to guest posts, and collaboration opportunities.

You’re also invited to sign up for my newsletter, the Gray Rhino Tracker. Every month, I’ll share insights and tips designed to help you to make sure you’re not about to get run over by a gray rhino. Plus you’ll get special offers, links to articles, and recommendations of work by people I respect.

But wait, there’s more! (I always wanted to say that…) Gray Rhino Tracker subscribers also get a FREE e-book companion, What’s Your Gray Rhino? 5 Questions to Keep You from Getting Trampled, with a simple set of questions to help you keep track of your organization’s -or your own- gray rhinos. Sign up for the Gray Rhino Tracker to get a download link.

I’ll still post content here regularly, including things related to Why the Cocks Fight and Lockout, but you can take a much deeper dive into gray rhino thinking on the new site. Thanks for taking a look!