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商业 - 房地产

中国楼市当前的真面目

Howard Yu 2016年02月16日

中国早已决意改变投资拉动经济增长的模式,转而向消费驱动、科技带动的知识型经济,可现行系统却在起反作用。

春节到来一周前,中国央行突然宣布,首次购买普通性住房的商业性个人住房贷款首付比例由25%降至20%,以提振房产市场。这项新规面向所有不实施“限购”措施的城市,即北京、深圳和广州等住房需求强劲的少数城市不适用。政策出台的背景是中国一线城市和非一线城市之间房地产市场冷热不均,但新政可能不会产生巨大影响。

与此同时,中国各地的大兴土木仍在持续。据《华盛顿邮报》报道,2011-2013年,中国消耗水泥约64亿吨,比美国整个20世纪的消耗量还多。如果说日本让世人见识到了怎样可以尽量减少库存,造完刚好能用上,那么,中国则掌握了先造了再说,造完再想怎么办的绝技。改革开放三十年来,中国经济在保持两位数的高增长的同时,也在大力兴修房产,每年新增房屋面积是香港总面积的两倍多,如今,这台高速发展的机器上裂痕隐现。

路透社报道称,中国已有1300万套空置房。在人称“鬼城”的城市里,大量新建的购物中心、中央广场、体育馆、风格前卫的行政大楼、豪华公寓、别墅一应俱全,可就是空无一人。去年,西安一栋占地3.7万平米的27层高楼被爆破拆除然后清理干净,因为该建筑长期空置,已无法修缮。

鉴于中国五分之一的经济活动都与房产市场息息相关,现状让人更加担忧。楼市下滑的影响面极广。2015年,中国制造工程机械与环卫设备的龙头企业中联重科净利润锐减90%。同年,由于市场下滑,15家中国房地产企业均报亏损。据《华尔街日报》报道,就在春节前,标准普尔将中国首富王健林旗下的大连万达商业地产的信用评级降为垃圾级,惠誉则将该司的评级降至BBB级,仅比垃圾级高两级。

对中国房产市场而言,减少供应至关重要,但政策上并不明确。一线城市的房价已经反弹,非一线城市的房价集体下跌。中国消费者在痛苦中明白了房屋所在地的重要性。一座有活力的城市需要活跃的经济活动和足够规模的人口才能维系。要素具备时,房价才会上涨,但在中国必要要素只集中在极少数城市里。

中国政府长期管控利率、首付比例和税率,并实行限购政策,以便或抑制或刺激房产市场。2014年下半年以来,中国房地产领域没有受到任何束缚,包括六次降息在内的所有举措都在刺激楼市。大家都在猜测,在吸引潜在买家进入小城市购房方面,最近这轮刺激能起多大作用。可决策者面临的真正问题是,房地产市场的“病根”未除,而且越发深入。

早在2005-2010年,地方政府就在定期向开发商出售地皮,开发商从银行得到贷款开发地块后,以相对较高的价格卖给个人投资者。在这一过程中,地方政府获取了亟需的收入,地方GDP从而增长,官员获得了政绩,为当地创造了就业,人人都得到物质回报。然后,大家不断重复这一过程。可事实证明,整个体系在实现“居者有其屋”的政策目标以及投资回报方面,效率极低。

澳大利亚联邦银行一位分析师向美国财经科技新闻网站Business Insider表示,近年来,中国的三四线城市的新建住宅占全国新增总量的80%-90%。国有银行对房产开发商大开绿灯慷慨融资,却对其他领域的私人企业和地方实业的融资需求视而不见,导致资金几近断流。中国早已决意改变投资拉动经济增长的模式,转而向消费驱动、科技带动的知识型经济,可现行系统却在起反作用。

对中国的中产阶级而言,经济疲弱只会造成生活不便。可对7000万在贫困线上挣扎的人口来说,生活水平哪怕只有小幅下降,也可能是一场不折不扣的灾难——足以引发社会动乱。GDP增速跌至创最低记录的6.9%之际,中国已别无选择,只能增加刺激力度。若要避免经济受到进一步冲击,微调不可避免,但全面深化经济改革才是更紧迫的。(财富中文网)

作者Howard Yu是瑞士IMD商学院战略管理与创新领域教授。

译者:Pessy

Just a week before the Chinese New Year, China’s central bank cut the minimum mortgage down payment for first-time buyers from 25% to 20%, as it sought to shore up the property market. The new rules apply to all but a handful of cities—such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou—where demand remains strong. It’s a tale of two tiers of cities, and one that likely won’t have a huge impact.

Construction is everywhere in China. Between 2011 and 2013, China consumed around 6.4 gigatons of cement, according to The Washington Post—more than what the United States used during the course of the 20th century. If Japan taught the world just-in-time production, where inventory should be minimized, China has mastered just-in-case construction—build now and figure out what to do with it later. In its ferocious race to modernity, with three decades of double-digit growth, China has built enough floor space to cover Hong Kong twice over every year. And now, cracks are beginning to show.

There are 13 million vacant homes in China, according to Reuters. Known as “China’s ghost cities,” there is an abundance of newly built urban areas complete with shopping malls, central squares, stadiums, avant-garde administrative buildings, luxurious condos, and villas—everything except people. In the city of Xi’an last year, a never-used 27-floor high-rise that covered 37,000 square meters was blown up and cleared away because it had been left vacant for too long and deteriorated beyond repair.

This is all the more disturbing, given that one-fifth of China’s economic activities are related to the property market. The consequences are many. Zoomlion, the country’s leading construction machinery and sanitation equipment maker, announced a 90% net profit drop in 2015. Fifteen Chinese real estate companies projected a loss for 2015 due to the recent market slowdown. Wanda Commercial Properties, whose founder was until recently China’s richest man, was downgraded last week by Standard and Poor’s to junk bond status, and by Fitch Ratings to “BBB,” hovering two notches above junk bond status, according to The Wall Street Journal.

While reducing China’s housing supply is crucial, it is anything but straightforward. Prices havebounced back in top-tier cities, while dropping in all of those below. Buyers have learned the importance of location the hard way. A viable city needs vibrant economic activity and a sizable population to sustain itself. Price increases, when they occur, tend to be concentrated in a small segment of Chinese markets.

Chinese authorities have long manipulated interest rates and down payment requirements, played with tax rates, and imposed purchase restrictions to either curb or spur the property market. From the second half of 2014 onward, there’s been no hampering of the real estate sector—all moves have been stimulus-oriented, including a six-fold reduction of interest rates. How successful this latest round will be to lure potential buyers into rural cities is anyone’s guess. But the real problem for policymakers is that the root causes of China’s real estate disease run much deeper.

As early as the second half of the 2000s, municipal governments have routinely handed over land to developers. Developers would then receive loans from banks to develop the land. Individual investors bought housing units at inflated prices. In the process, local government pocketed much-needed revenue, local GDP grew, politicians got patted on the back, jobs were created, and everyone made money so the wheels kept turning. But the system has proved to be extremely inefficient at building what is actually needed and yielding return on investment.

In recent years, tier 3 and 4 cities accounted for 80% to 90% of total new construction, an analyst at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia tells Business Insider. With state-owned banks indiscriminately channeling financial resources to property developers, other types of private enterprises and local businesses have been starved of capital. The Chinese government has long been adamant about transforming the nation from an investment-focused to a consumption-driven, technologically-advanced, knowledge-based economy. The current system encourages exactly the opposite.

For China’s middle class, a weakening economy is a mere inconvenience. For the 70 million people who live in abject poverty, a small contraction in living standards could be an utter disaster—enough to trigger social unrest. With overall GDP growth grinding to a record low of 6.9%, the Chinese government has had no choice but to inject more stimulus.This temporary tweak to avoid deeper shocks is needed without a doubt. But the urgency for broader economic reforms is needed even more.

Howard Yu is a professor of strategic management and innovation at IMD, a business school based in Lausanne, Switzerland.

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