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China's Superbank: Debt, Oil and Influence - How China Development Bank is Rewriting the Rules of Finance

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Praise for China's Superbank

"The phenomenal economic rise of China and its growing global role have been driven by a unique mix of political and economic actors. China Development Bank has been at the center of much of this growth especially as the principal banker in China's overseas commodity investments. Henry and Michael's timely book, China's Superbank, details for the first time the role that CDB has played under the focused leadership of its Chairman Chen Yuan. This book is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand how China funds its growth but it also raises important questions as to whether CDB's strategy will be sustainable over the long term."
--Fraser Howie, Managing Director, CLSA Singapore and co-author of Red Capitalism

"Combining in-depth knowledge of China with hard-nosed economic analysis and first-rate journalism, Sanderson and Forsythe have written an astonishingly detailed yet lively portrait of China's muscular state capitalism. This important work tells us in concrete terms how China is expanding its influence around the world, not through military force, but through writing checks. This is a must-read for all those who take an interest in China's rising influence in the world--and its increasingly vulnerable financial system."
--Victor Shih, Associate Professor, Northwestern University

"In China's Superbank Henry and Michael shed a much-needed light on the operations and people behind China Development Bank, an apparent policy bank that in a brief decade has in many ways surpassed the power and functions of the country's Ministry of Finance. The tale of how this formerly moribund institution ignited China's local debt crisis while financing China's foreign policy initiatives is a must for anyone seeking to understand China's opaque financial system."
--Carl Walter, former COO of JP Morgan China, independent consultant andco-author of Red Capitalism

"American Cabinet members say the global reach and growth of China Development Bank keeps them up at night. After reading this book, they might not go to sleep at all. For all the tsunami of news about China's rise in recent years, the country's political and financial institutions remain vastly undereported and little understood. Mike Forsythe and Henry Sanderson's book helps correct that with remarkable detail and insights about the bank that laid the financial foundations for China's economic miracle at home, before then finding a formula to spread its money abroad."
--Richard McGregor, Financial Times reporter and author of The Party


HENRY SANDERSON has been a reporter for Bloomberg News since April 2010. Prior to that, he was a reporter for the Associated Press in Beijing and Dow Jones in New York. While at Bloomberg, Sanderson has covered corporate finance, focusing on China's banks, the bond market, and the emergence of the yuan as an international currency. He is a graduate of the University of Leeds (with a BA in Chinese and English literature) and Columbia University (with a Master's in East Asian Studies).

MICHAEL FORSYTHE has been a reporter and editor for Bloomberg News since 2000. Prior to that, he was an officer in the U.S. Navy for seven years, serving on ships in the U.S. 7th Fleet. The highlight of his career in Washington was overseeing Bloomberg's coverage of the historic 2008 presidential election. Since returning to Beijing in 2009, Forsythe has focused on policy and politics, with particular emphasis on the international impact of "China Inc." He is a graduate of Georgetown University (with a BA in International Economics) and Harvard University (with a Master's in East Asian Regional Studies).

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xix

Chapter 1 Let 10,000 Projects Bloom 1

The Wuhu Model 4

The Chongqing Model 9

Global Financial Crisis 12

A Town Called Loudi 15

Li's Story 18

"Manhattan" in China 22

Credit Risk in a One-Party State 26

Cracks in the System 29

Chapter 2 Turning a Zombie Bank into a Global Bank 39

A Life in the Party 41

The Princeling Party: The Beginning of State Capitalism 50

Taking Over a Basket Case 55

Transforming CDB from an ATM Machine 58

Developing a Slogan 62

Beating the Commercial Banks 64

Gao Jian: Creating a Market for "Risk-Free" Bonds 68

The West Self-Destructs: The Financial Crisis 72

Moving Beyond Wall Street 75

Chapter 3 Nothing to Lose but Our Chains: China Development Bank in Africa 85

Made in Ethiopia 90

Ethiopia's Zone: Exporting to the West 94

China-Africa Development Fund: The State's Private Equity Arm 96

Rising Role of China in Africa 101

Fixed Capital: Western-Style Lending 105

African Tiger: Can Ghana Escape the Resource Curse? 108

Fresh Capital 116

Chapter 4 Risk versus Reward: China Development Bank in Venezuela 123

Default in Bolívar's Country 125

China's Venezuelan Adventure 126

Loans for Oil 132

Cars, Housing, and Gold: Good Business for China 136

Ecuador 139

Russia 140

China in the Backyard of the United States 141

Chapter 5 Funding the New Economy 147

Obama's Dream 151

Default-Free Bond Market 153

Financing China's Global Company: Huawei 157

The Final Frontier: Private Equity 163

Acting as a Gatekeeper 167

Imprint of the State 169

Chapter 6 The Future 175

About the Authors 181

Index 183