The World’s Most Expensive Club – The Economist

 Images 20070526 D2107Fn1 From The Economist: China’s investment in shows how government investors are flourishing at the heart of the financial system

With $1.2 trillion in foreign-exchange reserves and the pool growing by more than $1 billion every day, China casts a giant’s shadow over the global financial markets, even if it has mostly used the money to pile up American Treasury bonds. The announcement on May 21st that it would invest $3 billion of its reserves in Blackstone, a New York-based private-equity firm soon to issue shares, shows that it is prepared to barge into murky private markets as well as liquid public ones. It is not the only inscrutable country to be cosying up to the inscrutable private-equity industry. Around the world, a secretive society is emerging of governments flush with foreign assets, some of them petrodollars, that are increasingly calling the shots in international finance. The Blackstone deal is likely to stir others to invest their money even farther away from prying eyes than they do already.

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Like China, whose proposed Blackstone stake is part of $300 billion that the government plans to set aside this year for investment purposes, dozens of countries have set up what are now commonly referred to as sovereign-wealth funds. They manage money drawn from reserves, natural-resource payments and the like. China is chiefly concerned to diversify its foreign reserves, but other sovereign-wealth funds own national, as well as international, assets. [Full Text]

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