...of commentators and economists who now see the massive problems in China is growing by the day. The below snippet from is by Gary Shilling in Bloomberg. Readers here knew these problems years ago.
China is hoping to cool its white- hot economy without precipitating a recession. Doing so will be extremely difficult: Inflation fears are growing, the government’s ability to respond is quite limited, and China’s economic model, which leaves bureaucrats guessing about the market effects of their directives, is ultimately untenable.
Inflation worries start with housing. With Chinese exports curtailed by U.S. consumer retrenchment, capital spending threatened by government restraints and excess capacity, and domestic spending less than robust, housing has been China’s big generator of economic growth in recent years. By some estimates, half of Chinese GDP is linked to real-estate activity.
The government is fearful of rising prices, and has moved to prevent speculation. Buyers must now put down 60 percent of the purchase price on second homes, and 30 percent on first homes. The government is pressing banks to contain mortgages, and some have raised interest rates. In January, the mayor of Shanghai announced a new tax on property transactions that may be copied nationwide as other officials attempt to cool prices.
With these restraints in place, and with supply starting to catch up with demand, housing sales have slowed. But this has not fully curtailed China’s real-estate bubble: Housing starts rose about 40 percent last year. Developers are rushing to build while they try to support faltering prices by delaying completions and creating artificial shortages. Of course, these efforts are difficult to maintain because they tie up capital in uncompleted houses. Houses are now being built at about twice the rate they’re being sold, well above earlier norms.