Archive for ‘local government debt’

10/12/2013

China to judge local governments by their debt: Xinhua | Reuters

China will soon rate the performance of local governments partly by how much debt they incur, as Beijing tries to wean the country off heavy government investment, state media said.

A farmer carries a shovel over his shoulder as he walks to tend his crops in a field that includes an abandoned building, that was to be part of an amusement park called 'Wonderland', on the outskirts of Beijing December 5, 2011. REUTERS/David Gray

The central organization department, which oversees the appointment of senior party, government, military and state firm officials, said debt will be key when evaluating performances, according to the state news agency Xinhua.

Large-scale government investment has helped China\’s gross domestic product expand at double-digit rates for the past three decades. But analysts say China\’s economy has now hit a turning point, and domestic consumption must grow and investment fall to ensure a healthy expansion.

via China to judge local governments by their debt: Xinhua | Reuters.

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23/11/2013

Property in China: Haunted housing | The Economist

IN CHINA, property prices can keep going up forever. At least, that is what optimists seem to think. They point out that the country is undergoing the largest urbanisation in history. The throngs of migrants from the countryside all need homes, the argument runs. China’s swelling middle classes, many of whom live in shoddy 1980s housing, are also eagerly moving to fancier flats or McMansions. The result has been a spectacular property boom over the past decade.

At first glance, it seems the good times are still rolling (see chart). During the first three quarters of this year residential sales shot up by 35% versus the same period a year ago. Prices for new homes rose year-on-year in September in 69 of the 70 biggest cities. In Shanghai, Shenzhen and Beijing prices jumped by more than 20%; in slightly smaller cities, such as Nanjing and Xiamen, they rose by around 15%.

Despite these signs of rude health, even some of China’s biggest property moguls appear to be growing uneasy. Wang Shi, the chairman of China Vanke, the country’s largest residential-property firm by volume, has called the market a bubble. Wang Jianlin, the country’s richest man and the chairman of Dalian Wanda, a property giant turned entertainment firm, acknowledges that parts of the country may be experiencing a property bubble, though he thinks it “controllable”. Li Ka-Shing, a Hong Kong tycoon who has long been bullish on China, has started to sell his mainland holdings.

The problem is not the wealthiest cities with the most vertiginous valuations. Indeed, in those markets prices may yet go higher. People from all over China buy trophy apartments in Shanghai and Beijing, making their markets as resilient as those of Manhattan and central London. In fact, policies aimed at squelching speculation may be artificially suppressing demand in those places.

Shanghai and Shenzhen recently followed Beijing’s lead by requiring that buyers of second homes put up 70% of the purchase price as a deposit. In Beijing, the sale of a second home incurs a 20% capital-gains tax. (This is supposedly a nationwide policy, but is not always enforced in other cities.) Couples with two homes are reportedly divorcing to avoid the tax, since once officially single they can each own a primary residence, and thus sell either one without penalty.

Demand does not look so robust, however, in places like Yingkou Coastal Industrial Base, in north-eastern China. This development was promoted by the local government as a future hub of economic activity, but the future has not yet arrived. There are rows of empty buildings and few people on the streets. Property salesmen claim that big companies ranging from Coca-Cola to PetroChina are building factories nearby. But even Xinhua, an official media outlet, is sceptical: except for street lamps and the occasional passing vehicle, it reported recently, “at night the base was completely dark.”

Many property developments outside the big cities appear to be ghost towns of this sort. Moody’s, a credit-rating agency, laments that a large and rising share of new supply has gone to smaller cities. People’s Daily, another official organ, recently fulminated against the “huge waste of resources” such construction represents. Nonetheless, by the government’s count, 144 cities in 12 provinces are planning 200 new towns.

via Property in China: Haunted housing | The Economist.

23/05/2013

* China urbanization plan hits roadblock over spending fears – sources

Reuters: “China’s plan to spend $6.5 trillion on urbanization to bolster the economy is running into snags, sources close to the government said, as top leaders fear another spending binge could push up local debt levels and inflate a property bubble.

A general view of newly built houses at Dadun village of Lingshui ethnic Li Autonomous County, Hainan province, in this January 18, 2013 file photo. REUTERS-Stringer-Files

Premier Li Keqiang has rejected an urbanization proposal drafted by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), seeking changes to put more emphasis on economic reform, according to the sources, who are familiar with the matter.

Many local authorities have already lobbied to get funding for projects, ringing alarm bells among top leaders in Beijing.

State-owned China Development Bank recently pledged to lend 150 billion yuan ($24.47 billion) to southeastern Fujian province to support its urbanization and channel 30 billion yuan into urban projects in central Anhui province, according to Chinese media.

“The urbanization plan could be delayed. Top leaders have seen potential risks if the program cannot be kept on the right path,” said an economist at a top think-tank which advises the cabinet.

“The leadership aims to jumpstart reforms, but local governments see this in a different perspective – they view this as the last opportunity to boost investment,” said the economist who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

China plans to spend some 40 trillion yuan ($6.5 trillion) to bring 400 million people to its cities over the next decade as leaders such as Li try to sustain economic growth that slowed to a 13-year low of 7.8 percent in 2012.

Li, the driving force behind urbanization, has turned more cautious following warnings from leading academics over the risks, said the think-tank sources who are involved in the policy discussions.

The NDRC is racing against the clock to amend the long-term plan in a bid to publish it by the end of June.”

via Exclusive :China urbanization plan hits roadblock over spending fears – sources | Reuters.

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