Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an article contain more sheer garbage per word than today’s Bloomberg.com account of a supposed dispute on dealing with China between two kingpins at the same big American hedge fund.

As the article explains, this ostensible disagreement began this past Tuesday when Ray Dalio, founder and Co-Chairman of Bridgewater Associates told a CNBC interviewer that China’s longtime practice of “disappearing” critics of its thug regime amounted to behaving “like a strict parent….That’s their approach.”

Dalio’s comments unleashed a torrent of outrage that was often as cynical as it’s become predictable these days. For with the exception of making isolated protests about especially egregious Chinese human rights violations (e.g., against the Muslim Uyghur minority), or backing piecemeal controls over cooperation with entities directly tied to the Chinese military, many of those who claim to be appalled by Dalio’s excuse-making for Beijing’s brutality wouldn’t dream of urging Bridgewater – or any American finance firm or other kind of business – to even slow its plans to expand its operations in China. 

In other words, they wouldn’t dream of systematically clamping down on practices that for decades have inevitably helped channel massive amounts of resources and knowhow from around the world into the People’s Republic to use as Beijing’s dictators see fit. And in the case of U.S. investment companies, which look to be just getting started in luring capital to China, these operations will just as inevitably improve the efficiency of China’s own financial system, which will just as surely help enrich it economically and strengthen it militarily.

The Dalio rebuke reported by Bloomberg was genuinely unpredictable, but no doubt even more cynical – for it came from Bridgewater’s own CEO, David McCormick. According to reporters Sridhar Natarajan and Katherine Burton, “on a company call,” McCormicktold staff he’s had lots of arguments about China over the years with Dalio and that he disagrees with the billionaire’s views….”

But of course, the “people with knowledge of the matter” who made certain that this alleged dissent would be made public passed along nothing about what McCormick’s problems with his colleagues’ views entailed. And apparently neither Natarajan nor Burton pressed for elaboration.

The authors did make clear that there was no indication that McCormick favored putting the kibosh on Bridgewater’s recent decision to launch a $1.3 billion investment fund in the People’s Republic, which they wrote would bring the Chinese assets under its management to more than $1.6 billion.

But there was no excuse for Natarajan, Burton, or their editors simply to parrot claims from McCormick’s friends and associates that the Bridgewater CEO is a China “hawk” who views the People’s Republic as “an existential threat to our country” – especially since these same persons are encouraging McCormick’s interest in running in Pennsylvania’s upcoming race to replace retiring Republic U.S. Senator Pat Toomey.

And how on earth could the Bloomberg team allow McCormick buddy Jim Schultz (bizarrely, “a former lawyer in the Trump administration”), to get away with pointing to McCormick’s service in former President George W. Bush’s Treasury Department as evidence that the Bridgewater CEO “has dealt with China in the past…knows how to talk to them, and…will be tough on China as a U.S. senator.”

Even loonier: “’The president of China complained about the decisions he was making about technology at the time,’ Schultz said.”

For anyone who knows anything about U.S.-China relations in the last few decades knows that no administration enabled China’s dangerous rise to dangerous superpower status with lenient trade and technology transfer policies more enthusiatically than W’s.

Natarajan and Burton correctly note that “A hawkish stance on China is all but essential in GOP politics if McCormick makes a run” and that since “Bridgewater has been expanding in China…McCormick would undoubtedly have to navigate China-bashing in the Rust Belt state….”

What they left out is that if the press coverage of this possible campaign is as brain-dead as theirs, McCormick’s challenge won’t be terribly difficult.