时间:2014-03-29 21:32:33 来源:英语学习网站


Housing markets: Double bubble trouble

CAN bubbles ever pop twice? In late 2009 the world began to worry about a Chinese property bubble, symbolised by Ordos, a newly built city, bereft of citizens, in Inner Mongolia. In the spring of 2010 China’s government broadened its curbs on multiple home purchases and mortgage borrowing. The following spring, prices in nine big cities fell at last, according to one widely watched index. “The Great Property Bubble Of China May Be Popping” declared the Wall Street Journal in June of that year.

This week the same newspaper cited “compelling signs the Chinese property boom is over,” noting that “Cassandras” have been predicting a crash for years. (The Cassandra of Greek myth could tell the future but was never believed. For China’s property Cassandras, things are the other way round: their direst predictions are often believed, but have yet to come true.)

Bubbles often go on longer than expected. This newspaper warned about America’s internet and housing bubbles years before they burst. What is unusual about China’s bubble is not its persistence but its prevarication. It seems to be bursting for a second time. Property prices did peak in 2011, as the Journalnoted. But the following year, they started to rise again.

Prices are still rising in 69 of the 70 cities tracked by the official statistics (Wenzhou in Zhejiang province is the exception). But residential sales fell by 5% in the first two months of the year, compared with a year earlier. And other statistics paint a darker picture, points out Nomura, a bank, which believes that property now poses a systemic risk to China’s economy.

Nomura (among others) calculates an alternative property-price index by dividing the official figures for the value of housing sold nationwide (599 billion yuan, or $96 billion, in the first two months of 2014) by the floorspace sold (94m square metres). That suggests the price per square metre was about 6,400 yuan. By this (volatile) measure, prices fell by 3.8% compared with a year earlier (see chart). That has not happened since February 2012.

Falling prices would be a natural outcome of China’s frenetic pace of homebuilding. China now has almost as much floorspace per person as Italy enjoyed in 2009, Nomura calculates. GK Dragonomics, a consultancy, thinks China needs to build roughly 10m homes a year to keep up with the growing size and aspirations of the urban population (see article). Until 2011, China’s annual homebuilding was below that figure. In 2012, it surpassed it.

In most countries, that would be reported as good news. A rapid expansion of the housing stock means fewer people living in the boondocks or in urban discomfort. In China, however, this building frenzy is seen as an economic threat, not a triumph. One fear is that China’s developers are building houses for the wrong people (speculators) in the wrong places (backwaters). Instead of accommodating China’s overcrowded urban masses, too many houses stand empty, serving as stores of value for people dissatisfied with bank deposits and distrustful of the stockmarket. Another fear is that if homebuilding falls sharply, China may struggle to shift labour and capital quickly enough to avoid an abrupt slowdown in the overall economy.

But the first fear should allay the second. China’s building boom has left some parts of the country with too much floorspace and other parts with too little. Nearly half of all migrant workers still live in dormitories or on worksites. Where housing is oversupplied, prices will have to fall, inflicting losses on homeowners. But where housing needs remain unmet, scope remains for further construction to fill the gap. For example, the government has said it will spend more than 1 trillion yuan this year renovating shoddy housing. This will help keep homebuilders busy.

Realignment of the industry will be painful for local developers that cannot diversify across regions. These smaller firms have also suffered disproportionately from the government’s efforts to curb bank lending to the sector. Cut off from banks, they have borrowed at punishing rates from less regulated trust companies instead. Some went further. The biggest shareholder of Zhejiang Xingrun, a property firm, was recently detained for “illegal fund-raising”, local reports say. It has debts of 3.5 billion yuan ($565m) that it seems unable to repay. It would not be the first property default in China. But it would be one of the biggest.

Because China has misallocated housing, some parts of the country remain overcrowded while others remain empty. A bubble is always bursting somewhere, even as another inflates elsewhere. In China’s patchwork housing market, the Cassandras are never right everywhere but they are often right somewhere.






包括野村证券在内的银行通过分析官方资料,得出一种二者选一的“房地产——价格指数”。它依据9400百万平方米房屋销售和全国房地产销售价格(在2014年首两个月为5990 亿人民币或 960亿美金)而定。这表明每平方米的房价约是人民币6400元。据此衡量(此指数具有易变性),与去年同期相比 (见图表),房价下跌了3.8%。这次下跌是自2012年2月以来的首次房价下跌。

房价下跌是中国狂热住宅建设的必然结果。野村证券估算出中国现在的人均房产面积几乎跟2009年的意大利一样多。 龙洲经讯咨询公司认为,中国每年需要建造1千万房屋才能满足不断壮大的城市人口规模(见文章)。直到2011年,中国每年的住宅建设均低于这一数字。而在2012年,住宅建设才超越了这一数字。


但第一个担忧应能缓和第二个担忧。中国的建设热潮使某些地区充斥太多楼房,而其它地区的楼房又少之又少。近一半的移徙工人仍然住在宿舍里或在工地上。但是大凡住房供应过剩,房价就会下跌,这又对业主造成了损失。但在住房需求仍得不到满足的地区,仍需进一步建设满足人们的住房需求。例如,中国政府说今年它将花费超过 1万亿人民币整治假冒伪劣的房屋,这就使房地产开发商有得忙了。

产业改组将给当地的开发商带来的痛苦,因为房地产业不能像其它产业一样,实现跨区域的多元化。这些微型企业也不同程度地遭受着苦难,因为政府遏制银行放贷到这些小公司。如果不能从银行贷款,小公司只能以高利息为代价从一些受到较少监管的非正规信托公司贷款。有些情况更加严重。浙江兴润公司,一家地产公司的大股东最近由于"非法融资"被拘留,当地的报道称。该公司负债35 亿人民币 (约合 5.65 亿美元),但它似乎不能偿还该债务。它不会是中国的第一次房产拖欠事故,但它将是负最大拖欠债务的公司的其中之一。