China’s Squeeze on Property Market Nearing ‘Tipping Point’

If China gets by this we should be ok.
If not, could be a serious setback for a few days,
but ultimately the lower commodity prices are a plus for the US.
And even more of a plus if we knew how to sustain aggregate demand at full employment levels.

China’s Squeeze on Property Market Nearing ‘Tipping Point’
By Bloomberg News

Sept. 23 (Bloomberg) — The squeeze on China’s property market may be reaching a “tipping point” that drives growth lower just when exports are under threat from a global slowdown and investor confidence is plunging, said Zhang Zhiwei, Hong Kong-based chief China economist at Nomura Holdings Inc.
Land transactions in 133 cities tracked by Soufun Holdings Ltd., the country’s biggest real-estate website, fell 14 percent by area in August from a month earlier. Prices of new homes declined in 16 of 70 cities last month compared with July, according to government data.
Property construction is a mainstay of investment that last year drove more than a half of economic growth while land sales contributed 40 percent of revenues earned by local authorities that have amassed 10.7 trillion yuan ($1.67 trillion) of debt. A funding squeeze on developers risks a “domino effect” as companies needing cash cut prices, forcing others to follow, Credit Suisse Group AG said yesterday.
“We’re reaching a tipping point where land sales are dropping much faster than before, developers are losing more access to bank financing, and housing prices are showing weakness,” Nomura’s Zhang said in an interview in Beijing yesterday.
The People’s Bank of China has raised interest rates five times over the past year, curbed lending to property developers and raised down payments on home loans as part of Premier Wen Jiabao’s campaign to rein in surging consumer and property prices. The government has also limited purchases of housing in cities where gains have been deemed excessive.
Loan Approval Withdrawn
Real-estate development accounted for a fifth of China’s urban fixed-asset investment last year, government data show.
Shanghai-based Shui On Land Ltd. had a loan approval from a Chinese bank withdrawn after the lender changed its policy, Vincent Lo, the company’s billionaire chairman, said in a Sept. 13 interview. Cancellations by that bank, which he wouldn’t name, are “happening quite frequently” to other developers, he said, adding that the credit squeeze may slow property development.
The price of land in Beijing slumped 76 percent in August from a month earlier, while in Guangzhou it plummeted 53 percent, according to Soufun. Land auction failures surged 242 percent in the first seven months of this year because of government curbs on the property market, the Beijing Times reported Aug. 3.
Debt Servicing Difficulties
The decline may make it more difficult for some of the thousands of companies set up by local governments to service debts taken on to fund infrastructure investment. China Real Estate Information Corp., a Shanghai-based property information and consulting firm, estimates 40 percent of overall local government revenue came from land sales last year.
In a sign financing vehicles in some provinces are struggling, the auditor of northeast Liaoning province estimated in July that about 85 percent of such companies in the region had insufficient income last year to cover all their debt servicing payments.
Some developers have turned to trust firms for financing, usually in the form of loans that are repackaged into investment products and sold to retail investors. The debt is typically funded by banks or investors themselves, according to Samsung Securities Asia Ltd.
Many real-estate companies have received about half of their new financing from trust firms over the past year, according to Jinsong Du, an analyst with Credit Suisse in Hong Kong. New bank lending to property developers in the second quarter of this year sank to 42 billion yuan from 169 billion yuan in the first quarter, he said, citing central bank data.
Stocks Drop
Shares in China property companies slumped yesterday on concern tightened access to loans will force them to cut prices. Greentown China Holdings Ltd. plunged 16 percent in Hong Kong, the most in almost three years, and was 6.5 percent lower at HK$4.20 at 3:34 p.m. today.
Greentown, the largest builder in the eastern province of Zhejiang, yesterday denied media reports the banking regulator ordered trust companies to provide details of their business dealings with the company and its units.
The China Banking Regulatory Commission is looking into financing of developers through trust companies as part of a broader evaluation of real-estate lending, a person familiar with the matter said today. The inquiries are part of regular monitoring and aren’t targeting any particular company, said the person, who declined to be identified because the regulator’s queries were meant to be private.
The “possibility of developers defaulting on debt has definitely increased and towards the end of the year that’s pretty likely,” Du said in a telephone interview yesterday.
‘Tip of the Iceberg’
Developer Dalian Rightway Real Estate entered preliminary restructuring talks with lenders after missing a loan repayment, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper reported Sept. 9, citing three unidentified people involved in the situation.
Funding problems are just “the tip of the iceberg” and “sharp declines in property sales and prices are likely in the next two to three months,” said Shen Jianguang, an economist at Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd. in Hong Kong.
Premier Wen reiterated this month that stabilizing consumer prices remains the government’s top priority and that the direction of government policies won’t change. The slowdown in economic growth is “within expectations,” he said.
Too Complacent
Consumer-price increases in August slowed to 6.2 percent from a year earlier, down from a three-year high of 6.5 percent the previous month. Economists at Citigroup, Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd. and Macquarie Securities Ltd. say inflation probably peaked in July.
Policy makers may be too complacent about the economy’s performance, Mizuho’s Shen said, pointing to the deteriorating outlook for exports as Europe’s debt crisis deepens and the U.S. risks slipping back into recession.
The International Monetary Fund this week cut its forecasts for global expansion this year and next and said downside risks to growth are rising.
In signs China’s economy is cooling, a preliminary index of purchasing managers released yesterday by HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics showed manufacturing may shrink for a third month in September, the longest contraction since 2009, as measures of export orders and output decline.
“The risk of China replaying the hard landing of 2008 is increasing as the property sector cools and exports weaken,” Shen said. “ I fear that once the real economy deteriorates and officials do loosen policies, it will already be too late.”

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15 Responses to China’s Squeeze on Property Market Nearing ‘Tipping Point’

  1. Charles Yaker says:

    What would MMT do?



    personally I don’t know enough of the detail as to what’s going on their to offer much guidance.


  2. TC says:

    I’ve only been waiting for this to happen for 18 months. I’m always early.


  3. Paul Palmer says:

    Land isn’t for sale in China, only for lease from the government.

    In the industry I work in, China has build capacity to serve 300% of the world demand this year. If they have done anything similar in other industries, it has to come to a halt sometime.


    Tom Reply:

    @Paul Palmer,

    Wow, what industry is this?

    That sounds for sure like it can’t last then.


    Paul Palmer Reply:

    Solar Photovoltaic industry. First wave of Western producer bankruptcies has started. By the time it’s over there will be only one company manufacturing solar cells somewhere other than Asia (China/Taiwan/Malaysia/Korea/Japan. They will have been totally outspent.


    Zaid Reply:

    @Hi Paul,

    Interesting stuff… Although, I think you’re in the right place for the next decade or so. Demand this year might be slow, but maybe not for long. Perhaps after another major oil spike, governments will react and boost demand. Heck, it may even be our last hope to change popular opinion against deficit spending.

    Also, from your experience, how much effect does the price of silver have on your business? It’s been going up along with gold, and I’m sort of wondering if that’s not the reason for costs spiraling out of control for solar cell manufacturers.

    Paul Palmer Reply:

    @Paul Palmer,
    No correlation between solar PV and oil (although sometimes financial markets behave that way). Few places in the world make electricity with oil. Solar PV mostly replaces natural gas.

    Silver prices have some effect, not much. Maybe $5 out of a $300 panel is silver.

    The takeover of the solar panel manufacturing industry by the Chinese has had an unintended consequence that they didn’t think about. Over 80% of the panels go to Europe, where they are subsidized. The taxpayers there are saying, “why should we subsidize Chinese-built panels?” As a result the subsidy programs are falling out of favor. Even though solar power is technically cheaper than peak-power natural gas generation, it’s hard to compete against the existing infrastructure. All energy, like all transportation, is subsidized.

    ESM Reply:

    @Paul Palmer,

    “Even though solar power is technically cheaper than peak-power natural gas generation,…”

    What does that have to do with anything? It’s apples to oranges, unless solar power can be used as anything other than base power (which would be news to me).

    Zaid Reply:

    @Paul, As far as correlation to oil, financial markets do tend to jump the gun, but the general idea is that we would eventually convert the country’s fleet of vehicles into electric, which I agree is not moving fast enough. The sources of energy can be as diverse as we need it to be. It’s a huge national project, and yes maybe I’m optimistic in assuming that the nation can mobilize to such an extent into alternative energy.

    ESM, If it’s cheaper, it would still reduce the load on the gas turbines. So why not have more diverse sources of energy, no?

    ESM Reply:

    @Paul Palmer,


    “ESM, If it’s cheaper, it would still reduce the load on the gas turbines. So why not have more diverse sources of energy, no?”

    Well, my point is that it’s not really cheaper. A natural gas peaker is essentially an airplane engine which runs just a handful of times per year when there is a critical load on the system. It is very inefficient and is only economical to run when the price of electricity is way above the base level.

    It is cheaper to run a peaker for 50 hours per year at horrible efficiency than to add permanent base capacity to handle the maximum electricity usage during the year.

    Unless solar can be used in a peaking context, viz. fast spinup, fast spindown, cheap to maintain, and cheap to install, then it should be compared to baseload generators, not airplane engines.

    Paul Palmer Reply:


    Solar power is not considered baseload power, because it is not “on” all the time. Nor is it considered dispatchable.

    Because it is nearly always available at peak times, it is most often compared to peak power.

    The only country with a measurable amount of solar power is Germany (though Italy will soon). One of the least sunny countries in the world. The increase in solar power there correlates nicely with a decrease in auctioned peak power prices (price from independent producers to the grid distributors).


  4. Gary says:

    “The price of land in Beijing slumped 76 percent in August”

    That means that the land lost 3/4 of its value? How can they get through this?


    ESM Reply:


    This couldn’t possibly be correct.


  5. zanon says:

    lots of chinese purchases in Bay Area California.

    They all want their kids to go to stanford and become millionaire .com types.

    if chinese property market tanks more, just by palo alto!


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