Stop me if you've heard this one before.
It comes from the New York Times:
"A report released on Wednesday by Fitch, the credit ratings agency, said banks were increasingly engaging in complex deals that hid the size and nature of their lending obscuring hundreds of billions of dollars in loans and possibly even masking a coming wave of bad real estate and infrastructure loans"
Sounds familiar, no?
But here are two very important pieces of information that I deliberately omitted.
First, the article was written on July 15, 2010. In other words, these potentially dangerous practices are happening right now, not two years ago when things got really ugly in the banking sector.
And secondly, I took the word "Chinese" out of the text. See, this is not the Wall Street or Canary Wharf bankers at work here … it is happening in China.
Seriously, how worrying is this? The banks of the world's powerhouse economy are, if this report is to be believed, going down the same path US and European banks did – the path of understatement, and even deception, to disguise loans and move them off the books.
The thing is, what almost disguises this further is the continued growth in the country. True, the second quarter was not as strong as last year … but then last year there was an enormous amount of credit and stimulus pumped into the Chinese economy.
But China is still investing, it is still spending, and you've got the Agricultural Bank of China in the middle of what looks to be the world's largest market listing.
So, hot or not? That is our question this week as we explore the extraordinary Chinese economy on CTC.
We've got plenty more for you of course, including two very interesting stories out of the UK.
One is Volvo, which says too much attention is being put on C02 emission from cars and not enough on the dozens of other poisonous gases spewing out of our cars.
It wants to see more disclosure and transparency… we'll speak to Volvo UK's managing director Peter Rask.
World Cup sponsorship
And also a report out of the UK which suggests being a World Cup sponsor is not really worth the time, and certainly the money. This report asked people to associate brands and products with football and the World Cup.
The results were intriguing … even with the bombardment of specific advertising during the World Cup, people weren't apparently getting "the message" that the sponsors wanted. Engage Research produced the report … we'll speak to director Alexa Arrowsmith.
It is our new weekly segment on CTC where we hit the streets of any given city around the world, armed with one business or economic question for the people.
Last week, we were in Washington DC asking Americans about deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
This week it is Port-au-Prince, the battered Haitian capital where people are still trying to recover from January's earthquake, and that includes businesses as well.
We'll hear from Haitian business owners about trying to get back on your feet after a natural disaster of frightening magnitude.
And from Monday each week, we'll post our Money Talks question and location our twitter page so you can add your voice too, even if you are not in our city-of-choice that week!
That is all to come this week on Counting the Cost … hope you can join us!
Counting the Cost can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 1430, 2130; Saturday: 0430, 1230, 1900; Sunday: 0230, 1630; Monday: 0830.