在唱衰中国的人中，许多人的观点源于这样一个事实：中国经济正在以9%的GDP增长率飞速增长。中国政府可能无法控制通胀，如果通胀失控，则会对增长造成不利影响。与此同时，中国的商业地产和住宅都供大于求，这些地产在未来许多年里可能都是国有银行的包袱，还有可能导致通货紧缩。此外中国政府在固定资产方面还做出了其他一些不明智的投资。详见《中国地方债务成不定时炸弹》（ China's debt bomb）一文。
与此同时，有证据表明中国的房地产市场的确出现了问题，而且这些问题也引起了两家大型评级机构的关注。标准普尔（Standard & Poor）6月15日将中国房地产市场的展望下调至“负面”，标准普尔表示，明年中国的信贷紧缩可能会导致房地产价格下降10%。穆迪（Moody）三个月前也把对中国房地产市场的展望下调至“负面”。
彼得森国际经济研究所（Peterson Institute for International Economics）的高级研究员尼古拉斯•拉迪表示：“当然，我认为和经济学家比起来，我们更容易从华尔街的投资人身上感受到他们对中国经济硬着陆的恐慌。”拉迪表示他从前就过见过这一幕。在上世纪90年代末，中国的消费价格指数的增长率一度高达25%，但这并未影响中国后来的经济增长。
Jim Chanos is not alone. The well-known short-seller and vocal China bear spoke last month of not finding enough available shares to short some U.S.-listed Chinese companies with questionable accounting practices. Just a week after his interview, a short seller's report on a U.S.-listed Chinese timber company sent its stock tumbling 90%.
Indeed, the rush of traders making bearish bets on Chinese stocks is the latest evidence of growing trend among smart money: if you're not bearish on China, you're missing the next big trade.
"The market and foreign academics have both turned more pessimistic," says Dan Rosen, a partner at the Rhodium Group who follows U.S.-China relations.
Chanos started things off in 2009 when his analysts studied China's building boom, leading him to call it "Dubai times 1,000." Edward Chancellor at GMO in Boston and independent economist Andy Xie also began predicting that year that China would soon stumble.
More recently the chorus has been growing. Billionaire George Soros said this month China might be in a small bubble, Hong Kong's outgoing securities regulator called it "the new dot-com," and soothsayer economist Nouriel Roubini recently repeated his thinking that China's government will be powerless to stop a downturn caused by dubious real estate projects and poor fixed-asset investments after 2013.
Most of the arguments are some derivative of this: China's economy is screaming ahead at 9% GDP growth. The government may not be able to control inflation, and that could hurt growth. Meanwhile, there's a commercial and residential property glut that could hamper state-run banks for years and lead to deflation. Plus, the Chinese government has made other terrible investments across fixed-assets. (See also China's debt bomb)
Roubini's main point is that China's communist leaders have been fast and loose with money. He says when China's net exports declined during the 2008-2009 global recession, government actions boosted fixed-investments' share of GDP (think bridge building and new roads) to 47% from 42%. It was enough to avert a severe recession in China, but Roubini contends that exploding capital spending can't possibly keep going to useful projects. He visited China and saw newly built airports and bullet trains that are empty, ghost towns, and highways leading to nowhere. Commercial real estate projects and luxury residential buildings have been overbuilt, and automobile capacity has outrun demand. In the short run, says Roubini, this all leads to inflation—too much money chasing too few good projects. But eventually overcapacity leads to deflationary pressures, which typically begin in the manufacturing and real-estate sectors.
"The problem, of course, is that no country can be productive enough to reinvest 50% of GDP in new capital stock without eventually facing immense overcapacity," he wrote in an April article for Project Syndicate.
Roubini uses the Asian financial crisis of the late '90s as an example of what happens when countries over-invest and under-consume. To avoid a so-called hard landing after 2013, Roubini thinks China needs to save less, cut fixed investment, reduce net exports' share of GDP, and start boosting domestic consumption.
"The trouble is that the reasons the Chinese save so much and consume so little are structural," he says. "It will take two decades of reforms to change the incentive to over-invest."
Last week George Soros used a recent appearance at an economic conference in Norway to say China has missed its opportunity to stem inflation. The billionaire investor told the conference that China is in "a bit of a bubble," according to Bloomberg. Soros added that the country was beginning to see the first sings of wage-price inflation, an indication to him that China's strategy for growing the economy was running out of steam.
Meanwhile, China's well-documented real-estate problems recently attracted the attention of two major ratings agencies. Standard & Poor's cut its outlook to 'negative' on Chinese developers on June 15 and the rating agency said tighter credit could drive down prices by 10% over the next year. Three months earlier Moody's also downgraded its outlook on China property market to negative.
Most economists still forecast China GDP growth to eclipse 9% in the second quarter, and settle around 9% growth for the full-year. This after rising at a 10% annualized clip for most of the past 30 years.
"I certainly think fear of a hard landing is much more palpable on Wall Street among investors than people who study the economy," says Nicholas Lardy, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. He's seen this story play out before, in the late '90s when China's consumer price index hit 25% growth. It didn't hamper future growth then.
"It's fair to say China was growing above its potential last year, and we see it play out in high prices," adds Lardy. But with monetary tightening reducing the money supply and "given the political sensitivity to high inflation, I think they're on a good trajectory."
The smart money around Wall Street says to bet against China, turning the sentiment almost mainstream. Now it's up to China's communist party to prove them right or wrong.