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China lost billions in diversity drive

China has lost tens of billions of dollars of its foreign exchange reserves through a poorly timed diversification into global equities just before world markets collapsed last year.

The State Administration of Foreign Exchange, the opaque manager of nearly $2,000bn (€1,547bn, £1,429bn) of reserves, started making huge bets on global stocks early in 2007 and continued this strategy at least until the collapse of the US mortgage finance providers Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae in July 2008, according to analysts and people familiar with Safe’s operations.

By that point Safe had moved well over 15 per cent of the country’s $1,800bn reserves into riskier assets, including equities and corporate bonds, according to people familiar with its strategy.

Safe never discloses its holdings except to the top Chinese leadership so it is impossible to know exactly how much it has lost from diversifying before markets crashed.

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This article was originally posted on FT.com

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