Where’s Zhou Xiaochuan? | FT Alphaville

Where’s Zhou Xiaochuan?

It’s not often that central bankers go missing.

Zhou Xiachuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China, was rumoured to have done so at the end of last week.

Rumours of Zhou’s disappearance were catapulted into internet infamy after Stratfor, a Texan risk-assessment company, picked up a report on its website:

Rumors have circulated in China that People’s Bank of China (PBC) Gov. Zhou Xiaochuan may have left the country. The rumors appear to have started following reports on Aug. 28 which cited Ming Pao, a Hong Kong-based news agency, saying that because of an approximately $430 billion loss on U.S. Treasury bonds, the Chinese government may punish some individuals within the PBC, including Zhou. Although Ming Pao on Aug. 30 published a report on its website indicating that the prior report was fabricated by a mainland news site that had attributed the false information to Ming Pao, rumors of Zhou’s defection have spread around China intensively, and Zhou’s name has been blocked from Internet search engines in China.

STRATFOR has received no confirmation of the rumor, and reports by state-run Chinese media appeared to send strong indications that Zhou is in no trouble at the moment.

Indeed.

On Tuesday we’ve got further denials in the shape of a sighting from Japan’s Financial Services Agency. Bloomberg reports that financial services minister Shozaburo Jimi met with the man on Monday. Meanwhile, the Chinese central bank has been busy posting recent pics of Zhou on its website:

(Ok, maybe not that last one.)

It appears China’s officialdom is quite determined to refute this particular rumour, which brings us back to why it may have been started in the first place. Stratfor reckons, given Zho’s lofty political ambitions, that it’s evidence of an internal struggle within China’s economic hierarchy.

Not quite a missing central bank governor then, but still potentially pretty juicy.

Related links:
Time to prank call Zhou Xiachuan – Zero Hedge
Top China bank official’s defection rumors quashed - Washington Post
Inside the People’s Bank of China – 21st Century Business Herald via China Translated