Star short seller James Chanos says China’s real estate bubble has put it “on a treadmill to hell,” and the bubble may burst this year.
The frenzy continues because construction accounts for as much as 60 percent of China’s GDP, he says.
“They can’t afford to get off this heroin of property development. It is the only thing keeping the economic growth numbers growing,” he told Bloomberg.
Chanos, one of the first to identify Enron’s plight, already proclaimed China a bubble in January, saying that its real estate sector is like Dubai times 1,000 or worse.
Since then, the property boom has only intensified.
In February, Chinese real estate prices soared at the fastest rate in almost two years, despite the government’s decision to bring back a tax on homes sold within five years of their purchase.
It’s not just China’s private sector that has loaded up on real estate, Chanos says.
Local governments are heavily leveraged to property, and the central government will ultimately have to nationalize failed loans.
Chanos says he’s shorting Chinese developers and companies that supply China’s construction materials.
It’s not just foreigners like Chanos who are worried about a bubble in China.
Guo Shuqing, chairman of China Construction Bank, the country's second largest by assets, told the Financial Times that GDP growth of 9.5 percent or more would be very problematic.
"It will mean more duplication of construction, more excess capacity and higher waste of capital," he said.
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