On China

This is a discussion on On China within the Economic & Fundamental Analysis forums, part of the Methods category; Andy Xie on China: "Chinese asset markets have become a giant Ponzi scheme. The prices are supported by appreciation expectation. ...

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Old Oct 1, 2009, 4:10pm   #1
Joined May 2004
On China

Andy Xie on China:

"Chinese asset markets have become a giant Ponzi scheme. The prices are supported by appreciation expectation. As more people and liquidity are sucked in, the resulting surging prices validate the expectation, which prompts more people to join the party. This sort of bubble ends when there isnít enough liquidity to feed the beast.

While China is experiencing weak exports now, the weak dollar allows China to release the liquidity saved up during the boom in the past five years without worrying about currency depreciation. How far would the bubble go and for how long?

It is not too hard to understand when the bubble would burst. When the dollar becomes strong again, liquidity could leave China sufficiently to pop the bubble. Whatís occurring in China now is no different from what happened in other emerging markets before. Weak dollar always led to bubbles in emerging economies that were hot at the time. When the dollar turns around, the bubbles inevitably burst.

However, monetary policy could start a short but powerful bull market for the dollar. In the early 1980s Paul Volker, the Fed Chairman then, increased interest rate to double digit rate to contain inflation. The dollar rallied very hard afterwards. Latin American crisis had a lot to do with that.

The current situation resembles then. Like in the 1970s the Fed is denying the inflation risk due to its loose monetary policy. The longer the Fed waits, the higher the inflation will peak. When inflation starts to accelerate, it would cause panic in financial markets. To calm the markets, the Fed has to tighten aggressively, probably excessively, which would lead to a massive dollar rally. This would be the worst possible situation: a strong dollar and a weak US economy. Chinaís asset markets and the economy would almost surely go into a hard landing.

The most basic approach in studying bubbles is to look at valuation. For property the most important measures are price to income ratio and rental yield. Chinaís average price per square meter nationwide is quite close to the average in the US. The USís per capita income is seven times Chinaís urban per capita income. The nationwide average price is about three months of salary per square meter, probably the highest in the world. As far as I can tell, a lot of properties canít be rented out at all.

Many would argue that China isnít experiencing a bubble. The high asset prices just reflect Chinaís high growth potential. One can never make an ironclad case to pin down an asset boom as a bubble. An element of judgment based on experience is inevitable when one calls a market boom a bubble. I have had a reasonably good record at calling bubbles in the past. I wrote my doctoral thesis arguing that Japan was a bubble in late 1980s, a long report at the World Bank in earl 1990s arguing that Southeast Asia was a bubble, research notes at Morgan Stanley in 1999 calling dotcom boom a bubble, and numerous research notes from 2003 onwards arguing that the US property market was a bubble. On the other hand I have never called something a bubble that turned out not to be a bubble.

In summary, the market frenzy now wonít last long. The correction may happen in the fourth quarter. There could be another wave of frenzy next year as China can still release more liquidity. When the dollar recovers, possibly in 2012, Chinaís property and stock market could experience collapses like during the Asian Financial Crisis."

The recession has dented China's exports and they are propping up growth numbers by using stimulus and spending reserves. A lot of this money is feeding into stocks/property alongside the 'hot money' who see China as the pending superpower. Any drop in these inflated assets will see the same fallout as any other bubble. As stated above, how much reserves will there be to cushion the blow.
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Old Oct 1, 2009, 4:14pm   #2
 
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agree with half of it, dont agree with inflation risk tho
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Old Dec 4, 2009, 1:59am   #3
 
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Re: On China

I think it needs a long way to pass this process.
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