NEW YORK – On June 28, the Hellenic American Association for Professionals in Finance (HABA) hosted the panel discussion on China Investment after the Debt Downgrade – what does it mean for the United States, Europe, and Greece? at Wells Fargo Connections in Midtown Manhattan.
CEO and co-Founder of CCTrack Solutions and HABA Vice President Robert Savage gave the welcoming remarks and moderated the panel discussion. The panelists were Nestor Gounaris- Founding Partner of China Solutions (CS), Hans Allegaert-U.S. Manager for CITIC Capital, and Wenzhe Zhao- VP Global Strategy & Economics, Credit Suisse.
The discussion centered on the recent news of Moody’s Investors Service downgrade of China’s rating from stable to negative and how it may affect the economy not only of China but also the United States, Greece, and the world. The experts all agreed it may be too soon to tell the effect of the downgrade and Zhao especially noted that the motive behind the move may be more about Moody’s than it is about China.
Gounaris has 20 years’ experience in China, with 14 years in-country since 1989 and observed how far the economy of China has come in recent years, recalling how in his early days in the country dairy products had to be purchased with ration coupons and now China is one of the major economies of the world.
Savage noted that depending on how you measure it, China is either the second-largest or the largest economy in the world, taking into account its debt, or in the how greater purchasing power of a dollar in China. Noting the challenges facing the economy of China, including the high price of real estate for middle and working class people in the cities, Gounaris also pointed out that the people of China have a 40% savings rate so there is always money for where the government needs to spend it.
Gounaris has represented over 700 clients of varied industries and nationalities on matters spanning large scale investment projects to multi-million dollar cross-border trade disputes. He was an associate at O’ Melveny & Myers and Simmons & Simmons in their respective Shanghai offices before joining CS as managing partner.
The experts also discussed the $1 trillion One Belt One Road development project and what the Trump Administration means for China, which according to Zhao is positive since the leaders of China see how much they have in common with Trump as businessmen.
Moderator Robert Savage at the podium with panelists Wenzhe Zhao, Hans Allegaert, and Nestor Gounaris. Photo by Eleni Sakellis
A Q&A session followed the discussion in which the experts elaborated on the positive impact investment in Greece has had and noting that the Chinese spend a great deal of money when they travel as compared to travelers from the United States or Europe and bringing more tourists from China to Greece would benefit the economy.
Among those present at the event were HABA President Fanny Trataros, HABA Treasurer Manny Caravanos, Costas Kellas, Nick Lionas, Intercollegiate Hellenic Society President Margaret Skourlis, Pauline Christo, and many members of the community.