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Dr. John Rutledge, Chairman, Rutledge Capital

Rutledge muses about his appearance on an “Apprentice”-like Beijing reality-TV show – and its significance for the Asian nation. “I was the only gringo among the [Chinese] VIPs and judges,” he jokes, describing a televised contest that awarded the winner the equivalent of $2 million, 20% of a new company and a post as that company’s CEO. He says the rewards reflect the spirit of a country “that is much more capitalist today than America.”

The economist decries what he says is an American viewpoint of China “from 50 years ago,” consisting of “the gray jackets, red books, riding bicycles.” He tells of “Supergirl,” an “American Idol”-inspired talent show, in which Chinese citizens cast more than 400 million votes via texting from their personal cell phones.

He declares that historically, “12-11 was a bigger day for America than 9-11” – Dec. 11 being the day that China inked the World Trade Organization agreement, opening its portals to foreign capital. “Every American investment bank is going in, and is going to bring a lot of capital with them.”

But Rutledge notes that even as Beijing rejoices in its new role in the global economy, it still has a Sino-centric agenda. Despite China’s verbalized willingness to negotiate trade agreements, “don’t expect any action on the currency.” He explains that “Chinese currency policy is Chinese monetary policy” – because the ancient culture reverberates with historical fear of inflation, a “traditional source of political instability.”