Modern China is driven by central planning and a deeply crony culture. Interestingly the country has succeeded in reinflating its housing bubble. I say reinflate because about a year and a half ago things looked like they were really going to bust. (Thanks to the unsound monetary policy that created the initial unstable boom.) Then the government and the banks intervened (in typical central planner fashion) and we’re off to the races again. The government delayed the inevitable. But the debt monster lurks, even and perhaps especially in the red hot Shanghai real estate market.
(From The New York Times)
China is in the midst of a dizzying housing bubble. Shanghai’s average housing price is up nearly one-third from a year ago, with prices in major cities like Beijing and Guangzhou not far behind. Chinese consumers are rushing to buy homes before the government steps in with restrictions.
When rumors swept through Shanghai that the government would require homeowners to pay more in taxes and down payments to buy additional properties, many couples filed for divorce so that one partner could still be treated as an independent buyer…
…Last month, economists at the Bank of China warned in a report that worsening asset price bubbles were adding to a frothy market that could result in trouble. The day before, Wang Jianlin, a politically connected property and entertainment magnate who is one of the country’s richest people, told CNN that China property was “the biggest bubble in history.”
The Chinese property bubble is not solely a Chinese problem. A real bust that unwinds quickly could have very destabilizing effects both on the global economic front and in geopolitics.