Tag Archives: China

Emotional Whirlwind: Chinas Real Estate Saga Casts a Tentative Mood Over Financial Markets

Emotional Whirlwind: China's Real Estate Saga Casts a Tentative Mood Over Financial Markets

China's real estate market has become a focal point of global attention, generating uncertainty and raising concerns about the overall financial landscape. The economic situations of major property developers in China have been a cause for worry, leaving the world in suspense. This ongoing saga has evoked strong emotions and carries significant implications.

The consequences of a collapse in China's real estate market extend far beyond financial territory. It would have a profound impact on the lives of millions of people, including homeowners, investors, and those employed in the construction and related industries. The social and psychological implications cannot be overlooked.

Moreover, the interconnectedness of the global financial system means that any significant disruption in China's real estate market could have ripple effects worldwide. International investors, financial institutions, and markets are closely monitoring the situation, aware of the potential implications for their economies.

The stakes are undeniably high, and the outcome of this situation will shape the future trajectory of China's economy and reverberate throughout the global financial landscape. By understanding the complex factors and underlying emotions, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the significance of this unfolding event, the multifaceted factors at play, and the feelings underpinning this gripping narrative.

Image source: The Plaid Zebra

The Weight of Uncertainty, Fear, Anxiety, and Hope

Have you ever wondered what's happening in China's economy? A new twist keeps us on the edge of our seats every week. From massive property companies teetering on the brink of bankruptcy to sprawling construction sites sitting empty and skyrocketing youth unemployment rates, China's financial situation is anything but stable. And remember, this isn't just a problem for China alone. The global economy is closely tied to China's fate, like a ship anchored to its economic performance. So, what's the next wave of challenges that China is facing?

Let's start by painting a picture of China's current economic landscape before we delve into its implications for the global economy. It's a big task, but let's dive right in. When the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted late last year, many expected China's economy to bounce back like a sprinter out of the starting blocks. However, it has been more of a limp in recent months instead of a leap.

Disturbing economic data has been emerging, particularly in the housing sector. One major player in the news is Evergrande. This colossal property developer made headlines in 2021 when it defaulted on its debt, earning the title of the world's most indebted developer with over $300 billion in debt. Unfortunately, the company is facing even more bad news. According to the latest estimates, its liabilities have now climbed to $340 billion, and it has recently filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in the United States. But Evergrande is not the only troubled developer in China.

You might be wondering why a crisis in China's housing market is such a big deal. In most economies, the housing sector plays a significant role in the gross domestic product (GDP), which is a key indicator of a nation's financial health. But in China, housing is even more crucial, accounting for 25% to 30% of its GDP. That's practically double the figure for the United States. Why is this the case? In China, people have limited options for investing their excess cash. Stock markets are complicated to access and nearly impossible to tap into international trades.

The central plaza of Kangbashi district in Ordos City, Inner Mongolia. Dubbed China's
signature ghost city, the district is less than 10 percent occupied. Qilai Shen/Getty Images

As a result, people park their savings in housing, which has traditionally been seen as a safe investment. This explains the phenomenon of ghost cities and massive clusters of vacant apartment buildings. These empty flats are not just abandoned; they are investment properties that owners choose not to rent out, fearing it would decrease their value. Estimates suggest a staggering 65 to 80 million vacant apartments across China. The sight of these desolate urban landscapes is similar to a dystopian movie.

For many years, house prices in China were on a steady upward trajectory. However, in recent years, the situation has changed. Officially, new home prices have seen a 2.4% dip since August 2021, with existing homes faring even worse, experiencing a 6% decline. But other sources of evidence suggest that the situation is much worse than official figures indicate. Reports from property agents and private data providers show drops of at least 15% in prime neighborhoods in major metropolitan areas like Shanghai and Shenzhen.

This is not good news for real estate companies, private investors, or the economy. It creates an atmosphere of economic uncertainty and leads to reduced spending. It's also a nightmare for aspiring homeowners who worry that they have invested their life savings into projects that may never be completed. You may recall the protests last summer when displeased investors refused to pay their mortgages due to delays in completing their homes. Such outbursts are rare in China.

So, what has caused this drop in house prices? The reasons are complex, but let's unpack them as succinctly as possible. First, let's consider China's urban migration statistics. From 1990 to 2020, the urban population exploded from around 301 million to a massive 848 million. This rapid urbanization and relatively cheap credit led developers to go into overdrive, constructing buildings as fast as possible. However, despite the construction boom, housing soon became unaffordable for many, especially in major cities.

For example, in 2020, buying an apartment in Shenzhen could cost you about 43 times the average annual salary. The government implemented a series of regulatory measures around 2020 to cool down the housing bubble. These measures included higher mortgage down payments, restrictions on buying multiple properties, and stricter credit conditions for developers. While well-intentioned, these steps now appear to have been too aggressive. Developers hit the brakes; many defaulted on their debts, and potential buyers were spooked, leading to decreased demand and prices falling drastically.

Created with an investment of $161 billion in the early 2000s, Kangbashi can house over 
300,000 people. So far, only 30,000 have moved in. Qilai Shen/Getty Images

Assessing the full extent of this crisis is challenging because reliable data in China is hard to come by. The Chinese government wants to control the narrative and minimize the data release that could cause market panic and reflect poorly on the government. For example, in August 2023, the government stopped publishing youth unemployment data after it reached an unprecedented level of over 21% in June of this year. However, some facts cannot be hidden. Big companies are in trouble, and markets worldwide are paying attention.

While Evergrande has been grabbing headlines, it is not the only player in China's deteriorating real estate landscape. For example, Country Garden, a property developer four times larger than Evergrande with an estimated one million apartments under construction, missed bond payments in early August. Country Garden has until September 2023 to make payments or risk default. Regardless of whether it can come up with the money, the damage has been done. Confidence in China's housing market, which was already shaky, has taken another hit.

A Balancing Act of the Government’s Intervention

The Chinese government's interventions in the real estate market stimulate a range of emotions and frustration as homeowners face stricter regulations and hope these measures will bring stability. It's a delicate balancing act between economic growth and preventing a bubble from bursting. The world watches with bated breath to see if these measures will lead to a safe landing or a turbulent crash.

So, where does China go from here? What can the government do to steer the economy out of troubled waters? One straightforward solution might be a robust fiscal stimulus, such as slashing interest rates dramatically to encourage borrowing and stimulate exports, which have traditionally been a cornerstone of China's economy. However, this tactic has its risks. It could potentially trigger capital flight as corporations and households seek higher interest rates abroad. 

This would cause China's currency, the Renminbi, to weaken further against the dollar. So far, the government's steps have been more cautious than transformative. For example, on August 21, China's central bank modestly reduced its one-year loan prime rate from 3.55 to 3.45%. However, market watchers generally agree that this move is like bringing a pocket knife to a sword fight. Bolder reforms are urgently needed.

Fortunately, China has tools at its disposal to mitigate the crisis. For example, the government could compel banks to lend more, which, while not a magic bullet, could act as a firewall against a full-scale financial meltdown and a subsequent credit crunch. The Chinese government has been trying to prevent a disorderly default by imposing stricter regulations on the property market, injecting liquidity into the banking system, and urging Evergrande to negotiate with its stakeholders. 

However, the government has also clarified that it will not bail out Evergrande or other troubled firms, as it wants to avoid moral hazard and promote market discipline. The outcome of this crisis will depend on how well the government can balance its conflicting goals of maintaining stability and reforming the economy.

Image: Markethive.com

Fear, Excitement, and Optimism Grip

If Country Garden can't sort out this debt issue by September, it could have severe repercussions for the property sector and the broader Chinese economy, which will have a ripple effect on the financial markets. The fact that bond trading for them has already stopped is a clear sign that significant challenges lie ahead. Investors, policymakers, and homeowners are all bracing for a turbulent ride.

The potential fallout from Country Garden's troubles is substantial. Around 145,000 families anxiously await their homes; their dreams and investments hang in the balance. This situation is a stark reminder that even the mightiest companies can stumble, shaking confidence in the market. Small suppliers in the property development chain are also feeling the heat as they rely on timely payments from these giants. If things continue this way, it could reshape China's property development industry and lead to higher unemployment. 

Now, you might be wondering if state-backed firms are safe from this turmoil. Even they are showing signs of vulnerability. This isn't just a problem for China; it is a global problem. American investors, for example, have stakes in Chinese assets and debts, and any loss of confidence in the Chinese market can lead to sell-offs and affect U.S. portfolios.

So, in a nutshell, the story of Country Garden and Evergrande's financial struggles is not just about the two companies debts; it's about how it could send shockwaves through the Chinese and even the global economy. It's a situation being closely watched, and the outcomes will have far-reaching implications.



About: Prince Ibenne. (Nigeria) Prince is passionate about helping people understand the crypto-verse through his easily digestible articles. He is an enthusiastic supporter of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. Find me at my Markethive Profile Page | My Twitter Account | and my LinkedIn Profile.






Tim Moseley

The Trailblazing Rise of the Chinese e-CNY and its Implication

The Trailblazing Rise of the Chinese e-CNY and its Implication

Welcome to the world of digital currencies, where financial transactions unfold without the clink of coins or the rustle of banknotes. While cryptocurrencies are not a novelty, the spotlight is now on Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs). These digital currencies, underpinned by central banks, are gaining momentum. China stands at the forefront of CBDC development, notably with its digital yuan (e-CYN). China has been paving its way towards a digital economy for decades. Its digital currency journey began in 2014, and has been testing its CBDC since 2017. The digital yuan outshines conventional currency with enhanced usability, efficiency, and traceability.

It is no secret that China’s economy is largely state-controlled. With the introduction of CBDC, China’s central bank will have complete control and power over all financial transactions. CBDC provides 100% traceability, which means the government can monitor everything an individual does financially. This makes the digital Yuan an instrument of control as much as a currency.

In a world perpetually evolving, the integration of digital currency aligns seamlessly with the contemporary digital lifestyle. Given the prevalence of smartphones, it's a logical progression for governments to consider incorporating digital currency into their frameworks. However, the big question is, do we want our every move monitored by the government? 

Image source: CoinDesk

What the Chinese e-CYN is all about

The Chinese CBDC, also known as the digital yuan, is the country's official digital currency. It operates similarly to physical currency but is stored in a digital wallet on a user's smartphone. Transactions can be completed offline and online, allowing for ease of use. The benefits of China's CBDC include increased financial inclusion, improved efficiency of payment systems, and reduction in cash handling costs for businesses.

It has been used for transactions totaling 62 billion yuan ($9.7 billion). The digital yuan platform is built on the Binance Smart Chain decentralized blockchain technologies, leveraging their security and transparency. China has taken aggressive steps to advance its e-CYN while simultaneously cracking down on cryptocurrencies outside state control. The digital yuan can potentially transform the financial industry and alter how people conduct financial transactions.

This could place China ahead of other countries regarding financial innovation and technological advancement. While these advancements seem beneficial, it is crucial to consider the implications of a government-controlled digital currency. The Chinese CBDC operates on a centralized system, meaning that the government stores and monitors financial data.

This kind of government surveillance could infringe on user privacy and financial freedom. It could also lead to a decrease in anonymous financial transactions. As we move towards a more digitalized world, it is essential to consider the impact of the technologies we implement. The Chinese CBDC brings with it new opportunities and potential dangers. It is important to proceed with caution and evaluate the long-term effects of these advancements on society.

The Impact of e-CYN on Society

The launch of the Chinese Central Bank's Digital Currency (CBDC) has been subject to much scrutiny from privacy advocates. The concerns raised, while valid, are seen by some as mere fear-mongering. The Chinese government has always had a reputation for monitoring its citizens, and the CBDC will make it easier to advance its surveillance efforts.

Installing the e-CNY is pretty straightforward. It can be downloaded as a standalone app or used through China's existing digital payment services, including Alipay and WeChat Pay. These two platforms dominate the sector with over 1 billion users each. Much like most banks these days, e-CNY users can pay for goods using their phones or a card. There's also a version for private users and businesses, and its usage has expanded to at least one Western bank.

But let's step back and look at CBDCs from the perspective of the Chinese government. Why is the People's Bank of China (PBOC), China's central bank, so desperate to roll out a CBDC? As you probably know, CBDCs are highly appealing to central banks worldwide for various reasons. These rationales range from practical benefits, such as instantaneous payments and lower costs, to more alarming implications. China shares these motivations. The advantages of CBDCs for governments and central banks include efficient and cheap emergency relief, greater access to financial services, and the ability to set rules for the digital money issued.

However, China's reasons go deeper than just efficiency. Data collection is a key factor. China is a surveillance state aiming to gather and centralize vast amounts of data on its citizens, using it to maintain authoritarian control. CBDCs offer programmability, which lets the central bank set rules for digital money, including restrictions and asset freezes for "bad actors." While this might seem like a good idea on the surface, it's concerning when the definition of "bad actor" is controlled by a totalitarian regime. This could lead to the suppression of political opponents and opposing voices.

China also aims to boost the international use of its currency through CBDCs, as the currency currently has a low share in global payments compared to the US dollar. The hope is that CBDCs could help China and its allies reduce their reliance on global financial systems, such as the SWIFT payment network, and evade sanctions.

Image source: South China Morning Post

Additionally, China's ambition to be a tech leader plays into this. The country is positioning itself as a leader in blockchain technology with initiatives like the Blockchain-Based Service Network (BSN). The BSN aligns with China’s vision of building a digital economy and a digital society, as well as advancing its global influence in the field of blockchain technology.

CBDCs are a part of this larger plan. However, while China's tech ambitions are commendable, the concern lies in giving a surveillance-heavy government like China's the power to shape behavior and control its citizens even more.

The good news is that e-CNY's widespread adoption isn't guaranteed. While it's been introduced in various cities, its technological limitations and practical issues have hindered its growth. Privacy, practicality concerns, and the potential risks they pose in the hands of governments with vast surveillance capabilities and limited checks and balances have kept adoption from skyrocketing.

The Bottom Line

Clearly, the emergence of Chinese CBDCs holds the power to reshape society's structure in a significant way. While the advantages are noteworthy, weighing the potential risks and their lasting effects is essential. Striking a balance between the benefits and drawbacks becomes paramount as digital currencies continue to progress. As history has shown, introducing new technologies isn't always without challenges.

The temptation of convenience and enticing features should not blind us to the potential consequences of these technologies. After all, if we aren't cautious, we might unknowingly trade our freedom for the ease of these modern innovations. Let's embrace the wave of digital currency with enthusiasm, yet let's do so collectively, ensuring we don't get overwhelmed by its influence. As we move forward, let's stand vigilant and witness what the future holds, such as the cost of being part of a dynamic world in this digital era.

The increased use of e-CNY has major implications for the financial world. It allows for the creation of a massive database of transactions centrally monitored and controlled by the People's Bank of China. This aligns with President Xi Jinping's vision of enhancing overall supervision, regulating various financial behaviors, and implementing programs for managing financial risks.

Beyond privacy and transparency issues, China is also looking to expand the use of e-CNY in cross-border payments to establish itself as a leading player in the global digital currency competition. This move might also aim to reduce the dominance of the U.S. dollar in international transactions and find ways to work around any sanctions imposed by the United States. China's innovations with e-CNY are reshaping its domestic financial landscape and making its competitors abroad recognize it as a strong and innovative force in the realm of digital currencies.



About: Prince Ibenne. (Nigeria) Prince is passionate about helping people understand the crypto-verse through his easily digestible articles. He is an enthusiastic supporter of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. Find me at my Markethive Profile Page | My Twitter Account | and my LinkedIn Profile.





Tim Moseley