Former teenage soldier hatches millions from Chinese egg futures

domingo 2 de agosto de 2015 03:25 GYT

By Engen Tham

SHANGHAI Aug 2 (Reuters) - A decade ago Zhang Xiongjie was a teenage infantryman patrolling China's bleak border with North Korea.

Now he stays in swanky hotels and drives a Mercedes Benz CLS - a remarkable rags-to-riches journey achieved in part by dominating one of the most obscure corners of China's unruly financial markets: egg futures.

The story of how he earned so much money, so fast - 600 million yuan ($96.63 million), he says, in 2014 - highlights the casino-like nature of China's nascent futures markets, and the vulnerability of such markets to a destabilizing rout.

Zhang trades on his own account and Reuters was not able to independently verify his earnings.

"Us poor people, when we are born, we're impoverished and uncultured. If we have such opportunity, why would we not take it?" said the smiling, soft-spoken 27-year-old in an interview.

The opportunity Zhang saw was very specific: to borrow a lot of money quickly to produce high profits in a poorly understood market.

"The leverage is high in futures," Zhang said, who is spoken of as a celebrity by other Chinese traders. "You can make a fortune overnight."

But the high concentration of leveraged retail investors chasing overnight fortunes is a growing concern for China's regulators after recent turmoil in the country's stock market.   Continuación...