What the world can learn from Chinese futures trading
“So long as you think about what others are thinking about, and stick to your trading strategy, you can always be successful.” This encouraging, if dubious, sliver of market wisdom was proffered on September 3rd by Zhou Chengji, a Chinese investment adviser, during a two-hour online tutorial. China is hardly alone in having a raucous community of would-be market gurus and day traders. But Mr Zhou’s focus was on an asset that makes China look rather unusual: egg futures, the only ones of their kind in the world nowadays.
For punters with strong views about whether hens will be productive this autumn and whether people will crave egg-fried noodles and the like, China is the place to be. All they need do is contact local brokerages and put down a 4,000 yuan ($585) deposit. Going long eggs (ie, betting prices will rise) was, briefly, one of the trades of the summer, with futures soaring 65% from late May to late July. Since then the market has cracked, prices tumbling more than 20%. Turnover is extraordinarily high. Investors buy and sell roughly 3m tonnes in egg futures every day, about a tenth of the total that China actually consumes in a full year. The rights to a single egg may, in effect, pass through a few dozen hands before it lands in boiling water.
All this makes it tempting to dismiss Chinese futures as a hotbed of speculative excess. Retail traders do play a much bigger role on the country’s commodity exchanges—in Shanghai, Dalian and Zhengzhou—than in Chicago or London, which have long been the world leaders in, respectively, agriculture and metals. Officials estimated that in 2016 about 85% of open positions on Chinese exchanges were held by individuals, compared with less than 15% in America, where institutions dominate trading. Nevertheless, the very immaturity of the Chinese market also reveals some enduring truths about futures that are obscured by the smoother functioning of century-old exchanges.
It is tempting to do sth.
used for saying that something seems correct or sensible but is probably wrong.
Start with the most basic, the need to hedge. Futures are a tool for producers to guard against prices plunging and for consumers to guard against them soaring. In the West this can look quite straightforward because market power is so concentrated. The top four steel companies accounted for about 80% of production in America in 2017 versus just 20% or so in China. Fragmented spot markets make it harder for futures to serve as a benchmark. Yet it is dangerous to operate without a pricing backstop. So China has been rushing to expand its universe of futures. In the past two years alone it has launched more than ten new contracts, from crude oil and stainless steel to apples and red dates. It will take time to establish their credibility.
If China still has much to learn about futures, there is something to be said for its trading intensity. Of the 20 most active contracts in the world last year, 14 were on Chinese exchanges, according to the Futures Industry Association, a global trade body. Some of that is because of double counting. It can also reflect the swirling pool of money trapped in China by capital controls. Nevertheless, there are limits to the potential irrationality in futures trading because ultimately the underlying commodities are due for physical delivery. Futures contracts thus converge with spot prices as they near expiry. Two other factors help explain China’s trading volume. Lot sizes are generally small (for example, five tonnes for copper futures in Shanghai, compared with 25 tonnes in London). And ordinary investors have easy access through their brokerage accounts. Institutional traders in China love the liquidity that results from this. It eliminates the risk of being unable to enter or exit a position because of a lack of trading.
there is...... to be said for, used with words such as something, a lot, much, etc.：indicating that something has advantages which deserve to be considered.
There is another reason why institutional traders like China. They can profit with relative ease. Commodity futures illustrate how cloistering a financial system from the rest of the world leads to distortions. Darin Friedrichs of StoneX, a commodities brokerage, says that easily disprovable rumours can cause price swings; unfounded reports of a Brazilian port closure recently drove up soyabean futures. Traders relish their “import-arb” windows, when prices of Chinese futures exceed those of their global counterparts, making it worthwhile to arbitrage by buying abroad and selling onshore.
1. cloister: seclude from the world in or as if in a cloister
eg. She cloistered herself in the office
2. relish: If you relish something, you get a lot of enjoyment from it. 喜爱; 乐于; 玩赏
eg. I relish the challenge of doing jobs that others turn down.
3. arbitrage: In finance, arbitrage is the activity of buying securities or currency in one financial market and selling it at a profit in another. 套利
Slowly, regulators are dismantling the walls, allowing more international firms to trade in China. Futures with international counterparts such as oil and corn are starting to align more with global prices. For the adventurous, though, there are always eggs.
翻译组：Annie Y，女，翻译硕士，IR一枚，爱别处的生活Summer，女，QE在职，梦想能仗翻译/音乐 /健康走天涯