Thursday, August 12, 2010http://alcuinbramerton.blogspot.com/2010/04/altnews4-httpalcuinbramerton.html
Alcuin Bramerton Twitter
Alcuin Bramerton profile ..... Index of blog contents ..... Home
How the other half lives in China
A photograph taken on Tuesday 11th May 2010 in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, south east China. In the background is the construction site of a high-end residential project on the south bank of the Minjiang River. In the foreground are two of the thirteen shipping containers used as housing for the construction workers and their families. They eat in the open air.
Chinese boxes and Chinese whispers: Can it be true? Is Chinese real estate now sixty percent overvalued? Has China been covertly funding a housing bubble five times larger than that of the US?
New Chinese banking stress tests are assuming that Chinese real estate valuations may be as much as 60% too high. In July 2010, China’s banking regulator instructed lenders to conduct a new round of stress tests to gauge the impact of residential property prices falling by as much as sixty percent in their hardest-hit markets. In doing this, China quietly telegraphed to the world that it is bracing itself for a more than fifty percent plunge in select real estate values.
Chinese banks were told to factor-in the worst-case scenario of prices dropping 50-60% in cities where they have risen excessively in recent years. Previous Chinese internal stress tests carried out in 2009-2010 were conducted on the assumption of home-price declines of up to thirty percent. This doubling in stress test assumptions (30% ► 60%) is not irrational. Tens of trillions in renminbi have been pumped into China's banking system via property whole loans and other property-related collateralized debt obligation products.
Most of this largesse has gone into constructing empty cities, vacant apartment complexes, and unused infrastructure projects. The conclusion is inescapable: China has been covertly funding a housing bubble five times larger than that of the US. China has 65 million vacant homes uncovered in urban areas. This number is more than five times larger than the twelve million in total US public and shadow home inventory currently available and showing on the books.
But there is a bigger problem building on the top of all this. China is committed to an active national policy of building ultramodern cities in the middle of nowhere. These Dubai-manqués will exist in an economic void in remote, inland "poor areas" and remain completely empty, waiting for someone, or something, to turn up. To the Chinese communist mind this is fine. At least it keeps a few million construction workers employed and boosts the country's Gross Domestic Product, courtesy of another trillion in underwater loans. And the policy is preferable to getting millions of unemployed Chinese ex-farmers to dig holes in the roads, fill them in again and trample the mud down flat.
Curiously, all this is going on when an old-family Chinese faction with massive interests in the residential property market is holding, and has activated, a $47 trillion World Court Writ of Execution and Lien on the US Treasury and the US Federal Reserve Board.
The question is a big one, and it must be put: What will happen in international markets when the Chinese property bubble bursts? More here (14.07.10). Updates here (07.08.10), here (08.08.10) and here (09.08.10).