EVERGRANDE, a Chinese property firm, is a big spender. It was until recently the country’s most indebted developer. It also owns a football club with one of the highest payrolls in China. It has extended its largesse to a new field: economics. Having founded an economic-research institute, Evergrande last month poached Ren Zeping, a star analyst with a big brokerage, to serve as its first chief economist. His annual salary of 15m yuan ($2.3m) is, based on available information, the highest ever for an economist in China. Not bad for a country where forecasting the official growth figures accurately has for years required little more research than reading the official growth targets.

Yet Evergrande is not alone in splashing cash in China, whether in property, football or, lately, economics. Competition for the best—or, rather, best-known—economists is fierce. The past half year alone has resembled a frenzied transfer window for their services. Besides Mr Ren, half a dozen...Continue reading