Planet China

Animal spirits

Black Swan events come as shock but they are often rationalised with the benefit of hindsight – but a shopping mall in Beijing has just experienced a Black Swan moment of a literal nature.

On Monday this week, a shopping centre in Beijing’s financial district unveiled a sculpture in its foyer of a black angular swan. But shoppers weren’t able to enjoy the art for long. By the afternoon, mall staff had carted the giant bird away.

With no explanation for the swan’s sudden demise, China’s netizens were quick to find a reason: the mall’s entrance is directly opposite the offices of the China Securities Regulatory Commission.

In June we reported on two bear statues that had been unveiled for a promotional day at the same mall. The animals were carted off after the CSRC complained that they could prompt a bear market. And the speculation is that superstitious regulators pushed to have the swan removed as well, because it was an omen for an unforeseen event at the stock exchange.

Why not choose a sculpture of a bull instead, Beijing Evening News has recommended. Perhaps – although China’s stock markets haven’t had much luck with bull statues either (see WiC328).


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