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A compelling look at the flaws in the Chinese economy

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China’s Great Wall of Debt. By Dinny McMahon. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 256 pages; $28. Little, Brown; £14.99.

THE zombies that appear in Chinese legends are not quite the same as their Western counterparts. They feast on blood, not brains, and hop about rather than staggering forwards. The differences extend to economics. Chinese officials, like their Western peers, openly fret about zombie companies—insolvent firms kept alive by banks—but are far less willing to kill them off. This small excursion into the world of the undead is one of many gems in Dinny McMahon’s new book, a vivid account of China’s economic problems, from debt to falsified data.

Mr McMahon, a veteran financial correspondent in China, most recently with the Wall Street Journal, wears his knowledge lightly, whether discussing ghost stories or balance sheets. His book, “China’s Great Wall of Debt”, is notable for two reasons. It is one of the clearest and most thorough…Continue reading

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