[Emil’s Summary] Econometrics? Sure. But are you familiar with the study of tasseomancy? Never given it any serious thought? Then how can you possibly understand the Chinese economy?

Your podcaster shunned traditional university education and instead sought a guild apprenticeship. Drawn to parapsychology and the occult even as a sma’ one, it was natural this podcaster’s inclinations were in alchemy, phrenology, gryphography, cryptozoology and economics. However, The Inquisition and Salem Trials had somewhat narrowed opportunities in these first options; opportunities which are now reserved for only the most gifted. With an aptitude optimistically scored by one high-school counselor as “average”, your podcaster nevertheless found a welcome home in economics. That field was supplemented with a minor in tasseomancy.

Sometimes called tassology or tasseography, it’s the study of tea leaves for the purposes of divination, fortune telling and interpreting the political economy of China. Yes, any economist can tell you about last month’s results for industrial production, retail sales and fixed asset investment. And Jeff Snider does, in this the fourteenth episode of Making Sense.

We first steep and then drink West Lake’s famous Dragon Well tea while discussing April’s Treasury International Capital report, the echoes of 2013 and the Oktoberfest-in-June-like optimism of German Financiers.

But then conversation turns to the political intrigue surrounding President Xi and Premier Li. Peering inside our porcelain cups the upward strokes of the leaves indicate a stabilized GDP level. The flourishes on the lower zone denote meticulous, yet highly creative accounting. But if one observes the overall slant and the pressure of the leaves there’s a suggestion of acute overcapacity, a complete lack of recovery, and a pronounced inclination toward stagnation.

If the monetary shadows are your fancy then the next time someone asks, ‘Would you care for some tea or coffee? Something stronger perhaps?’ – you know what to say.


Articles Discussed:

Still TIC’ed Off In The Shadows In April:

When Sentiment Flies:

A Chinese Outbreak (of Li v. Xi, Round 2):