China’s Incendiary Market Is Fanned by Borrowers and Manipulation
SHANGHAI — At the height of the frenzy for Chinese stocks, just about every company was a winner.
An online gaming start-up was valued at $7 billion. Shares in a fireworks company that had moved into finance shot up 300 percent. A struggling property developer was transformed into a stock market darling, just by changing its name to suggest it was an Internet company.
Then there was the case of Beijing Baofeng Technology, an online video company whose stock price soared 4,200 percent in the three months after it went public early this year. The company’s shares climbed by 10 percent — the maximum amount allowable under exchange rules — nearly every day for more than 30 days.
Before things fell apart a few weeks ago, China’s remarkable bull run was reminiscent of the Internet bubble that gripped the Nasdaq stock market between 1998 and 2000, when companies like Pets.com and Webvan that had no profit quickly became more valuable than some industrial stalwarts. At the time, everyone talked about how technologies and industries would transform society, justifying eye-popping valuations. They were right about the future, just not necessarily about specific companies and the high stock prices.