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Of capital markets and soul

By Taipan
24 Jun 2020

This week, my thoughts are with friends in Beijing, who are once again reliving one of their worst nightmares. No, not the second wave of Covid-19 infections, but having to take the test to see if they had the virus.

A test for Covid-19 is, of course, unlikely to take place in the doctor’s office. In Beijing at least, makeshift facilities have been set up across the city solely for the purpose of testing people for the coronavirus.

The government is taking no chances this time, after new clusters emerged over the past few days in Beijing, triggered by an outbreak in a wholesale food market.

Streets and neighbourhoods have been labelled either low, medium or high-risk areas. Mass testing is in the works for those working or living in higher-risk neighbourhoods. Beijing has apparently already taken samples from about 2.95m people in the city within a short period of 10 days.

Many of my banker friends in Beijing also had to follow procedure.

One chap told me this week that he went to one of the make-shift facilities to have his deep-throat saliva specimen collected.

Others fared slightly worse, having been forced into a nasal swab test by people dressed like the Michelin Man. The descriptions of their experience were cringe-worthy, to say the least.

But the most creative account came from a senior debt banker at a large state-owned bank.

An impromptu nasal swab test on a Monday morning caused him to simply lose focus — and interest — in what had, until then, been dear to him: the capital markets.

“That cotton swab went straight into my soul,” he says, explaining why he no longer cared how markets were performing that day.

I’m sceptical if his new apathy for the markets had anything to do with his soul actually being touched by the experience. But if it did, I would consider it a bonus.

By Taipan
24 Jun 2020