How Ren Zeping's pay jumped 200 times in three years

December 06, 2017 08:00
Ren Zeping accurately predicted the bull market cycle in 2015 and correctly forecast that China’s economic growth would follow an 'L-shaped' trajectory. Photo: Sina

Ren Zeping, a renowned economist, will join Chinese property developer Evergrande as vice president and chief economist. He will get a monthly salary of 1.25 million yuan, 207 times his wage three years ago as a government researcher. How did he manage such a big leap?

Born in 1979, Ren got his doctorate degree in economics from Beijing’s Renmin University of China in 2007. He completed his post-doctoral research at Tsing Hua University in 2009. He joined the Development Research Center of the State Council as a deputy researcher in the same year.

He has quickly become one of the top researchers among his colleagues. And he is also a close aide to Liu He, a right-hand man of President Xi Jinping and was recently elevated to the party’s highest decision-making body, the politburo standing committee.

Ren was promoted to researcher and vice director of the research office during his five years working there. Still, he was paid only 6,000 yuan per month in 2014.

That is not surprising. President Xi’s monthly salary is only around 14,000 yuan, according to People’s Daily.

So, Ren decided to join the private sector. In 2014, Ren became a macro analyst at Guotai Junan Securities. Thanks to his sharp predictions, he was ranked as the top analyst in the macro economy team at the 2015 The New Fortune Best Analyst, and ranked third the following year.

The New Fortune Best Analyst is a widely regarded competition among Chinese analysts where fund managers would vote for their favorite analysts.

Among his most remembered calls, Ren accurately predicted the bull market cycle in 2015. Also, he predicted that China’s economic growth would follow an “L-shaped” path in April 2015, roughly one year earlier than the same remarks were issued by the state mouthpiece People’s Daily.

Last year, Ren joined Founder Securities as chief economist and general manager of the research institute, again attracting lots of attention with catchy economic concepts.

Ren proposed the idea of a “new cycle” at the end of last year, which refers to the temporary economic uptick after years of supply-side reform. He also argued that even if China’s economic growth rate eased to 5 percent, listed companies would be better off than in previous years when GDP growth was at 8 percent, due to economic structural change and industry consolidation.

China Evergrande announced on Monday that Ren will join as vice president and director of Institution for Economic Research in an internal letter. He will provide analysis to support the group’s decision making.

In fact, China’s property market is heavily influenced by the macro economy and policies. Therefore, Ren’s sharp sense in macro economy and his connection with Liu He are valuable assets he brings to the table. This is also probably why Evergrande is paying him a whopping annual salary of 15 million yuan.

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Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist