Can You Read China? Top Mining CEOs Disagree on Biggest Customer – by Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg News – August 25, 2015)

What on earth is going on in China?

Two of the biggest mining companies feeding the country’s appetite for raw materials can’t even agree on whether there’s an answer to the question.

Andrew Mackenzie, head of BHP Billiton Ltd., is bullish on his ability to comprehend a country that consumes more commodities than any other — and whose economic woes have shaken markets around the globe this week.

“We don’t find China impossible to read,” Mackenzie, chief executive officer of the world’s biggest mining company, said Tuesday.“We’ve been at this game for decades.”

His certainty conflicts with billionaire mining rival Ivan Glasenberg’s admission last week that he couldn’t read the world’s second-largest economy right now and neither could anyone else.

Investors dizzy from this week’s turmoil in global markets may sympathize.

Looking Threadbare

The Chinese government’s reputation for managing growth now looks threadbare as the nation heads for the slowest expansion since 1990, and its stock market reels from the steepest four-day rout in almost two decades.

Amid the resulting shocks to international markets, raw materials and mining companies have been the hardest hit, with commodity prices tumbling to their lowest levels since the fallout from the global financial crisis in 2009.

Glencore Plc, headed by Glasenberg, has lost half its value in two months.

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