When China sneezes, companies across the world now reach for a tissue. Just over half a century ago nobody seemed to bat an eyelid when 36m Chinese people died in the great famine. Fast forward to today and investors are fretting over whether the Chinese buy a cup of coffee, designer handbag or the latest smartphone.
Equity markets hit the panic button after some of the world’s biggest companies, including Apple (US:AAPL), Starbucks (US:SBUX), Samsung and Volkswagen (GER:VOV3), blamed cash-strapped Chinese consumers for their recent woes. Those warnings pummelled global indices, shooting down suggestions that China and the rest of the world aren’t inextricably linked and reopening up the decade-long question that economic prosperity in the promised land may finally be unravelling.