China wild ride roller coaster

You might think the crazy roller coaster ride that is China’s stock market would be too much for some mom-and-pop investors to stomach. 

Think again. 

According to a survey of 2,200 Chinese residents by Bernstein, individual investors in the country actually want more risk, not less. 

And that looks like a recipe for disaster. 

The nation’s residents are planning to load up on high-yield, higher risk investments and wealth management products, or WMPs, in the near term according to the survey. 

Here is Bernstein on the issue:

With the memory of A-share market turmoil still fresh, we thought that risk aversion is the dominant theme in the near term. However, our respondents uniformly plan to increase their exposures to high-yield and high risk products in the near term. WMPs, capital market products and trust are set to gain most popularity in the next 12 months, at the expense of traditional bank deposits and protection assets such as pension and medical insurance.

Fair enough, you might think. They want returns, and so they’re taking on more risk. But here is the thing: They want the returns, but not the risk. Here is Bernstein again:

China has a stronger ‘Want-It-All’ mentality to money, relative to retail investors elsewhere. Our respondents appear to want risk-free yet high yields on WMP, equity, and bond investments. 

That sounds awfully familiar. 

Last year, Chinese residents poured money in to the stock market. Local companies were on a roll to raise funds by going public, and novice investors piled in to the market. They were encouraged to do so by President Xi Jinping’s administration.

Then the market tanked. Concerns of high valuations along with growing skepticism of the government’s ability to stabilize markets wiped off more than $5 trillion in global prices. The same investors freaked out.

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Chinese policy makers stepped up efforts to calm the jittery markets. They hired a new securities regulator and briefly suspended the circuit breaker, a mechanism that’s intended to protect small investors amid market volatility but instead did the opposite.

Premier Li Keqiang also pledged to improve communication with the market, and to make sure to protect the interests of the small investors.

The series of actions seem to have restored some confidence among Chinese investors, as this survey shows.

But this also sounds like the first act in a sequel to the market crash last year, so brace yourself.

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