*China’s Banking Transformation: The Untold Story*

By James Stent, I thought this was quite a special book.  Most of all, it tries to explain how things actually work (it is sad how rare this is in books, outside the genre of angling tomes).  Stent tries to give the reader a good sense of what kind of demotion a failing leader of a big bank might receive, how the 1998 failure of GITIC (Guangdong International Trust and Investment Corporation) shaped the thinking of Chinese leaders on bank resolution, how major bank board directors are chosen, how the percentage of non-performing loans is calculated within banks, how SME loan risk is dealt with, and how the regulators try to ensure safety (lots of liquidity), among many other matters.

It is perhaps no surprise that the author has been an independent director on the boards of two Chinese banks, and has four decades of banking experience in Asia.

It’s not a thrilling read for most people, but if you read books on China or international finance you’ll learn a great deal from this one.  That said, I believe the author’s assessments are in general not sufficiently critical, noting that some recent events seem to bear out such a judgment.

You can buy it here.  Also useful, for different reasons, is the new book The Economics of Air Pollution in China: Achieving Better and Cleaner Growth, by Ma Jun.  It is funny (read: sad) how many people think the planet is at stake when it comes to climate change, and yet they will not deign to read a single book about air pollution in China.  Should they not read all of them?


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