Sunk costs: business failures from the Titanic to Evergrande

Oct 1st 2021

Stock crashes produce stock footage. 1929: reams of ticker tape clawed by brokers with cufflinks destined for the pawnbroker; grim faces in the bread line; Bing Crosby singing “Brother Can You Spare a Dime”. 2008: computer graphs straggling downwards; worthless American properties filmed from a moving car; Miss Kittin & the Hacker performing “Stock Exchange” with self-conscious robot flatness. Coming in now from China: images of angry investors in covid masks gathered at the offices of Evergrande, a property firm, shouting “return our money!”; gaudy theme parks with candy-pink towers mimicking the bubble bodies of jellyfish; soundtrack tbc, but possibly Jolin Tsai’s “Karma”.

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The Evergrande empire comprises 1,300 housing projects in nearly 300 cities, a football team, an island holiday resort with 58 hotels…

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