订阅

多平台阅读

微信订阅

杂志

申请纸刊赠阅

订阅每日电邮

移动应用

商业 - 商业更多文章

Chanos vs. China (Part Two)

Bill Powell 2010年11月24日


    Chanos argues that there is more debt held off the books in local financing vehicles than the bulls care to admit, and that bad loans, once the real estate market turns down, will pile up more quickly than most think. This is an area in which government regulators in China have acknowledged they need to get more information into the marketplace, but even with what's known publicly, the bulls simply disagree with Chanos. Arthur Kroeber, managing director of Gave- Kal Dragonomics, a Beijing-based economic consultancy, says the central government is already forcing local governments to scale back borrowing, and in fact has ordered closed several LGTVs that did not have enough revenue to service their loans from banks. "China's government debt," Kroeber says, "is clearly manageable."

    The second component of the bullish case is straightforward: They say the combination of price spikes and overbuilding in Beijing and Shanghai simply gets too much attention. Andy Rothman, the chief China economist for CLSA, notes that the total amount of floor space bought in smaller, tier-three cities (where nearly 357 million people -- or 57% of China's urban population -- reside) has been slowly increasing as a percentage of the national total. And in those cities prices are up to 70% lower than they are in the four richest cities in the country: Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou. "There is no national housing bubble," Rothman asserts.

The guy who'll get China over the goal line

    Personal income, moreover, continues to rise in China, as does consumption. In the first half of this year, real urban disposable income rose by more than 6%, on top of a 10% rise last year. "Rising incomes still support middle-class affordability," Rothman says. As a result, "it's the world's best consumption story."

    Chanos's response to those two basic points is forthright: "It's an economy on steroids," he says. Just as Japan in the 1980s grew largely on the back of capital investment, eventually it has to stop. "Japan became a capital-destruction machine, and that's what China is now. You have an economy that's 60% fixed-asset investment, and not even in the developing world is that sustainable. It wasn't in Japan; it wasn't in Korea."

    Chanos is agnostic as to the timing of when a serious China bust might come, nor does he have specific ideas as to what might trigger a downturn. He just believes it's coming. One possibility -- reflected by a steep stock market decline on Nov. 12 -- is that accelerating inflation may force China's central bank to tighten credit more quickly than expected, putting additional pressure on real estate developers.

    I tell him toward the end of an interview that I, too, am invested in China, that in fact I'm long real estate. My wife and I bought a modest house in suburban Shanghai a few years ago, and, on paper anyway, we've done pretty well. Similar houses in our area have sold for considerably more than what we paid. He smiles and says, "Well, good luck with that."

    In truth, I am still, relatively speaking, a China bull. But I live near the Rose and Ginko Valley development, and even before meeting Chanos, I must admit, each time I drove by it at night, I secretly wished I would see a few lights on. I still do -- now more than ever.

上一页 1 2

我来点评

  最新文章

最新文章:

500强情报中心

财富专栏