Fool's Gold

Illustration for TIME by Matt Dorfman

When Chinese stock markets soared into nosebleed territory, quadrupling in 2006-07, Chinese mom-and-pop investors tried to convince themselves they would be spared bloody noses because Beijing was hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics. Feel-good investor sentiment surrounding the August Games, the thinking went, would prop up overvalued stocks, allowing time for revenues of booming Chinese companies to grow into their inflated share prices. When markets were peaking last fall, some investors predicted that the government would tweak the economy to keep it roaring during the Olympics year, and that if all else failed, China's regulators would find ways to prop...

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