Archive for ‘real economy’

29/05/2019

China showing signs similar to Japanese housing bubble that led to its ‘lost decades’, expert warns

  • China’s housing market showing signs of bubble similar to that seen in Japan in 1980s, says Asian Development Bank Institute dean and CEO Naoyuki Yoshino
  • China’s loose policy following 2008 global financial crisis laid foundations for current housing bubble, with US-China trade war adding to concerns
The average price of a home in Beijing has soared from around 380 yuan (US$55) per square feet in the early 2000s to the current level of well above 5,610 yuan (US$813) per square foot, according to property data provider creprice.cn. Photo: Bloomberg
The average price of a home in Beijing has soared from around 380 yuan (US$55) per square feet in the early 2000s to the current level of well above 5,610 yuan (US$813) per square foot, according to property data provider creprice.cn. Photo: Bloomberg
China must exercise extreme caution in handling its housing sector because it is showing signs similar to those witnessed during Japan’s bubble period of the 1980s that contributed to the collapse of Japanese asset prices and its subsequent “lost decades” of weak economic growth and deflation, a Japanese financial system expert warned.
The parallels between China’s current landscape and Japan’s three decades ago are readily apparent, stemming from a loose monetary policy that laid the foundation for the expansion of a housing bubble, said Naoyuki Yoshino, dean and CEO of the Asian Development Bank Institute.
China flooded its economy with credit in response to the 2008 global financial crisis, fuelling rapid growth in mortgages, real estate borrowings and investments over the past decade.
In the same vein, the Japanese government’s relaxed monetary policy in the 1980s triggered an economic bubble that eventually burst and sank the economy into a recession that 
lasted almost 25 years,

with the Bank of Japan continuing to still keep interest rates at or below zero per cent to this day in an attempt to spur inflation.

The Japanese government’s relaxed monetary policy in the 1980s triggered an economic bubble that eventually burst and sank the economy into a recession that lasted almost 25 years. Photo: Bloomberg
The Japanese government’s relaxed monetary policy in the 1980s triggered an economic bubble that eventually burst and sank the economy into a recession that lasted almost 25 years. Photo: Bloomberg

Japan’s experience could serve as a lesson on how to avoid a housing market collapse that would be especially detrimental to China’s financial sector and real economy, according to Yoshino.

“I’m very much concerned that if land prices keep on rising and if the population starts to shrink along with aggregate demand, then China will experience a similar situation to that of Japan,” Yoshino said.

There are already several strong signs of a housing bubble in China, according to Yoshino, firstly the astronomical surge in property prices in recent years.

I’m very much concerned that if land prices keep on rising and if the population starts to shrink along with aggregate demand, then China will experience a similar situation to that of Japan Naoyuki Yoshino
Home ownership is one of the few ways for Chinese families to generate wealth because of limited investment opportunities. The average price of a home in Beijing has soared from around 4,000 yuan (US$578) per square metre, or 380 yuan (US$55) per square feet, in the early 2000s to the current level of well above 60,000 yuan (US$8,677) per square metre, or 5,610 yuan (US$813) per square foot, according to property data provider creprice.cn.

The increase has also lifted the housing price to income ratio sharply from 5.6 in 1996 to 7.6 in 2013, well above the Japanese rate of 3.0 at its peak in 1988. The price to income ratio is the basic affordability measure for housing.

According to the Global Times, a reasonable home price should be three to six times the median household income. That means a family with an average income can buy a house with three to six years’ annual income. The house price to income ratio in China is above 50 in the first-tier cities and 30 to 40 in the third- and fourth-tier cities, the newspaper said in October. There are four levels of cities in China, defined by a number of factors including gross domestic product (GDP) and population, with Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen considered tier-one cities.

Another worrying sign, according to Yoshino, is that China’s financial sector has lent more heavily to the real estate sector than did Japanese banks during their bubble period.

Thirdly, the ratio of Chinese housing loans to the nation’s GDP has consistently been higher than Japan’s by about three times more.

Ever since US President Donald Trump started imposing tariffs on Chinese imports in July, worries have been mounting that China’s property bubble and its record debt level would make the economy vulnerable to the impact of rising trade tensions, leading to a sharper-than-expected economic slowdown.

Despite a government crackdown on debt and risky lending over the last several years, housing prices and bank lending to the sector have continued to rise, pushing homes beyond what the vast majority of people can afford, as well as putting many property developers deeply into debt.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a top government think tank, said in a report last week that the growth in housing prices in China’s bigger cities, caused by a relatively short supply of new homes, is likely to push up costs across the country.

“The government should closely monitor these cities to avoid overheating,” said Wang Yeqiang, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences who co-authored the report.

Property developers have begun a debt-fuelled land-buying spree just as urban housing demand is entering a long-running structural decline, said Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics. The potential supply of property that could be built on developers’ land reserves jumped last year to a record high, meaning the risk of a glut of new housing is real, Evans-Pritchard added, if developers were to convert all their land reserves into housing tracts.

“Since real estate drives around a fifth of GDP, a sharp downturn in this sector would be contagious, resulting in a jump in defaults across a wide swathe of the economy that could quickly erode bank capital buffers,” he warned.

China’s corporate debt stood at 155 per cent of GDP in the second quarter of 2018, much higher than other major economies, according to data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. In comparison, Japan’s corporate debt level is 100 per cent of GDP and is 74 per cent in the US. China’s corporate debt includes issuances by its 

local government

vehicles which by extension is mostly credit with an implicit guarantee from the central government.

Since real estate drives around a fifth of GDP, a sharp downturn in this sector would be contagious, resulting in a jump in defaults across a wide swathe of the economy that could quickly erode bank capital buffersJulian Evans-Pritchard

China’s imbalance between housing supply and demand may worsen because it faces a similar economic transition that is already well underway in Japan – a

rapidly ageing population

and

shrinking workforce

that led to Japan’s long-term deflation problem, said Yoshino, who is also the chief adviser to the Japan Financial Services Agency’s Financial Research Centre.

Even if rising housing demand due to urbanisation were to push China’s housing prices higher over the near term, the country faces risks from an oversupply of housing in the longer term due to its increasingly unbalanced demographic structure, he said.
The government has proposed that China’s retirement ages of 45 to 50 years for females and 55 to 60 years for males introduced in the 1980s be gradually increased to 65 years for both by 2045 due to a rapidly ageing population.
The rising population of retirees will consume fewer goods and services compared to younger families with children, and in turn, could dampen business investment given lower expected rates of return.
At the same time, more retirees means a bigger burden on the younger generation of taxpayers, which would reduce their wealth and change patterns of consumption. This is especially worrying on the back of China’s high debt level and pension funding gap, similar to the situation in Japan, Yoshino said.
In Japan, benefits from government pension schemes account for an increasing share of the country’s accumulated debt as spending on social protection programmes now represents more than a third of the government’s total budget.
China’s national pension fund is forecast to peak at 6.99 trillion yuan (US$1 trillion) in 2027 before it gradually runs out by 2035, according to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Photo: AFP
China’s national pension fund is forecast to peak at 6.99 trillion yuan (US$1 trillion) in 2027 before it gradually runs out by 2035, according to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Photo: AFP
The strain is also evident in China with the

national pension fund

forecast to peak at 6.99 trillion yuan (US$1 trillion) in 2027 before it gradually runs out by 2035, according to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, forcing the government to start to transfer assets from state-owned companies to fill the funding gap.

Against the broader economic slowdown, compounded by the trade war with the US, policymakers are also expected to carve out a highly expansionary fiscal budget for this year, with the broad deficit surging to 6.6 per cent of China’s GDP, up from 4.7 per cent last year, according to Larry Hu, head of China economics at Macquarie Capital.

Alicia Garcia Herrero, Asia-Pacific chief economist at Natixis, noted that the US criticisms of China’s unfair trade practises and currency manipulation were reminiscent of the US-Japan disputes in the 1980s and 1990s.

Because Japan was politically and economically dependent on the US at that time, it inevitably implemented economic policies to reduce its current account surplus. Subsequently, Japan suffered from the bursting of its asset price bubble, which led to deflation and the lost decades.

However, Herrero said that the modern China is less dependent on the US and so is in a better position to resist pressure to adjust its economic policies to create demand for American products.

Wang Yang, one of the seven members of China’s elite Politburo Standing Committee, said the US-China trade war could slash one percentage point off Beijing’s economic growth this year. Last year, growth expanded at its slowest pace since 1990, while corporate bond defaults hit a record high and banks’ non-performing loan ratio hit a 10-year high.

Source: SCMP

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14/03/2019

China to invest more in emerging industries

BEIJING, March 13 (Xinhua) — China’s emerging industries will become a major driving force for investment growth this year, the Economic Information Daily reported Wednesday.

China will increase policy support for and infrastructure investment in emerging industries in 2019, including commercial applications of 5G, artificial intelligence, industrial internet and internet of things, according to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

The country will cultivate emerging industrial clusters with market influence and distinctive advantages that can vigorously drive regional economic transformation, the newspaper quoted Ren Zhiwu, deputy secretary-general of the NDRC, as saying.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology also plans to promote the deep integration of the internet, big data and artificial intelligence with the real economy, and encourage innovation in new technologies and new forms of industry, the newspaper said.

Local governments will also step up support for strategic emerging industries in financial aid, technological innovation and the business environment. Efforts should be made to improve strategic emerging industries’ capabilities to innovate, said the newspaper.

Source: Xinhua

04/03/2019

Spotlight: China’s new sci-tech board “good attempt” to boosting innovation, reform: U.S. experts

NEW YORK, March 3 (Xinhua) — The new stock-trading venue in Shanghai Stock Exchange  is a “very good attempt” to optimizing the multi-tiered capital market system and enhancing the capital market’s capability to serve the real economy in China, American experts said.

The science and technology innovation board, which pilots registration-based initial public offering (IPO) system, is “a very good attempt,” and “it may be adopted by A-share markets in the future,” said Henry Huang, professor with Sy Syms School of Business, Yeshiva University.

“If high-tech companies grow and expand in the sci-tech innovation board, maybe they will get listed in the A-share markets later to attract more qualified investors, which makes the sci-tech innovation board an incubator of quality enterprises,” Huang said.

Kevin Chen, chief economist with U.S. wealth management firm Horizon Financial, agreed.

The new board will “largely improve” financing environment for high-tech companies, thereby accelerating the progress of sci-tech innovation in China as a whole, he said.

The adoption of registration-based IPO system will “make shell companies meaningless, while real values of listed companies will be shown in their share prices through more appropriate supervision mechanism,” Chen said.

In addition, the new major reform will facilitate Shanghai’s transformation into an international financial center as well as a science and technology innovation hub, said Allen Tjiong, president and CEO of BOC International (USA) Inc.

“These reforms are essential in making Shanghai a more competitive and attractive capital market for technology companies to raise capital,” said Tjiong.

China’s top securities regulator on Friday released regulations on the science and technology innovation board, which pilots registration-based IPO system. The regulations took effect on March 1 on a trial basis, according to the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC).

The new stock-trading venue focuses on companies in high-tech and strategically emerging sectors such as new generation information technology, advanced equipment, new materials and energy, environmental protection, and biomedicine, according to the CSRC.

Under the pilot registration system, eligible companies can become listed by filing required documents. Currently, new shares of the A-share markets are subject to approval from the securities watchdog.

Source: Xinhua

26/02/2019

Chinese vice premier stresses environmental protection, support for real economy

CHINA-YUNNAN-HAN ZHENG-INSPECTION (CN)

Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng (2nd R), also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, inquires about production of Yunan Baiyao Group in southwest China’s Yunnan Province, Feb. 26, 2019. Han Zheng made an inspection tour to southwest Yunnan Province from Sunday to Tuesday, where he examined protection of Erhai Lake and visited local companies. (Xinhua/Wang Ye)

KUNMING, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) — Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng has called for continued efforts on environmental protection and support for the real economy to ensure a good start for this year’s economic and social development.

Han, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the remarks during an inspection tour to southwest Yunnan Province from Sunday to Tuesday, where he examined protection of Erhai Lake and visited local companies.

Efforts should be made to ensure sustainable and healthy development of the economy and maintain overall social stability, Han said.

He recognized the outcomes the country has achieved in the protection and pollution treatment of the lake, and urged consistent efforts to win the lake’s pollution battle.

During a tour to a biotech company, Han urged it to use the unique natural resources of the province and independent innovation to explore the global market.

He also underlined efforts to push forward state-owned enterprise (SOE) reform, foster internationally competitive national brands, increase input in research and development, and enhance mixed ownership reform of SOEs.

Source: Xinhua

16/02/2019

Bank lending for ‘real economy’ key to boost China growth – central bank official

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China should encourage its banks to support smaller, private firms in the real economy, rather than forced lending or policies such as quantitative easing, a state newspaper quoted a central bank official as saying on Saturday.

“The central bank doesn’t wish to use administrative methods to require banks (to lend),” Sun Guofeng, head of the monetary policy department at the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), told the Financial News, a bank publication.

“It wants to establish positive encouragement mechanisms though monetary policy tools to encourage banks to actively increase their support for the real economy, especially towards smaller and privately-owned firms,” Sun said.

The comments come a month after Sun wrote a commentary in which he argued that problems with timely capital replenishment, bank liquidity gaps and poor rate “transmission” are three major constraints on banks’ supply of credit.

 

In the interview with the Financial News, Sun said monetary policy transmission had “noticeably improved”, showing that steps to enhance transmission mechanisms had been effective.

He said the central bank would increase the strength of innovation in monetary policy tools.

Perpetual bond issuance “is only one breakthrough” in reducing capital constraints on banks, Sun said, adding that “other methods” could be used in the future.

 

He said that quantitative easing was neither necessary nor possible at the moment, noting that under China’s financial system the significance of the central bank buying Chinese treasury bonds on the secondary market is limited, and that the PBOC is barred from buying the instruments on the primary market.

China’s banks made the most new loans on record in January following a series of moves to boost lending as authorities try to prevent a sharp slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.

Source: Reuters

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