Tag Archives: China Miracle

Is China Bankrupt?

3 Aug

From MSNBC:

All governments lie about their finances. At worst, as in Greece and the United States, the lies are bold and transparent. Everybody knows the emperor has no clothes, but no one want to say so. At best, as in Canada and China, the lies are more subtle – more like a magician’s misdirection than a viking raider’s ax. Look at these great numbers, the lie goes, but don’t look at those up my sleeve.

There’s a good argument to be made that if you look at all the numbers, instead of just the ones the budget magicians want you to see, China is indeed broke

… China has a history of taking debt off its books and burying it, which should prompt us to poke and prod its numbers.

A must-read article. Poke and prod China’s numbers here.

Joyce: Rudd Expects Miners To Pay Off The Debt

20 May

Media Release – Senator Barnaby Joyce, 19 May 2010:

Senator Barnaby Joyce, whilst on his “Straight Talking Tour” in Deniliquin said, “It was interesting to read the answer given yesterday to a question I asked on notice at the Senate Standing Committee on Economics in February as to what our debt position is.”

In 2008, there were six countries in the OECD that had higher net foreign debt as a proportion of GDP than Australia. These countries are Iceland (355 per cent of GDP), Portugal (72 per cent of GDP), Hungary (72 per cent of GDP), Greece (68 per cent of GDP), Spain (66 per cent of GDP) and New Zealand (60 per cent of GDP). In the same year, Australia’s net foreign debt amounted to 56 per cent of GDP. Around 10 per cent of Australia’s net foreign debt is held by the public sector. In the US, around 64 per cent of its net foreign debt is held by the public sector while in Greece, the public sector holds more than 100 per cent of the stock of net foreign debt.

“I also note that our Commonwealth gross public debt has gone from $139.182 billion to $141.282 billion in the last week. In addition to this is the fact that the aggregate borrowing of the states’ non-financial public sectors is expected to be $164 billion in 2009-10. There is also the money owed by entities such as utility companies that have borrowed money to pay state so-called ‘dividends’. As these debts do not come under the government sector financial reporting, who knows how much they owe.

Are we to believe that this government with their current track record has the capacity to fix things up over the next three years?

The Labor government solution is to go to the only section of the community that is making good money and to impede them on the capacity to pay off the debt. Australia has to maintain the vibrant integrity of its mining sector especially if the global economy starts to peel off through the ructions that are currently being seen in Europe. A resource tax would have to be the most foolish decision that a government could make at this point of time in global economics.

The Labor Party members have to ask themselves one question. If the mining sector is not bringing in money to our nation, and the agricultural sector, which they have managed to tie up with green and red tape, is not bringing in the money, then where exactly are our export dollars going to come from? Export dollars underpin the service industry where the vast majority of Australians work. You may not work in an export industry, but your pay depends on them.

In simple terms, if no money turns up on the table from export dollars, there is no money to pass around the table to reflect our GDP and ultimately to pay the debt on what is one on the most indebted nations on earth.”

More Information- Jenny Swan 0746 251500 / 0438 578 402

Is The China Bubble Starting To Burst?

14 May

We’ve just seen the Rudd Government present a truly fantastical budget.  One that relies completely on the hopeful fantasy that the Chinese building boom will continue for a decade to come, and so, a “great big new tax” on the “super profits” of mining companies can return the budget to surplus.

A lovely story.

But what do professional strategists on the China economy have to say about China’s prospects?

From MarketWatch:

China’s economy is teetering on the edge of a major slowdown … according to a noted China strategist.

David Roche, an economic and political analyst who manages the Hong Kong-based hedge fund Independent Strategy, says the world’s third-largest economy is now on the brink, faced with the inevitable reckoning that follows an extended bank-lending binge.

“We’ve got the beginnings of a credit-bubble collapse in China,” said Roche, predicting the economy will likely cool from its stellar double-digit growth rate to a 6% annual expansion as a result.

While that may not sound bad, Roche believes the collateral damage from the cooling will be anything but mild, as the banking sector comes under pressure from cumulative years of bad investment and mispriced capital.

The emerging picture is one of a substantial contraction in credit growth and infrastructure expenditure, he says.

The shrinkage is grim news for an economy heavily dependent on such outlays. China managed to escape recession during the global crisis mainly because of bridges, railways and other infrastructure-project spending, estimated to have accounted for about 90% of economic growth last year, according to Roche.

About 85% of the funding for these projects was arranged by local government financing vehicles “borrowing money they can never repay” from state-owned banks, says Roche. Nearly 3 trillion yuan ($440 billion) of the 11 trillion yuan extended to these entities has been wasted or stolen, he estimated.

***

More worryingly, as bank lending dries up, there won’t be the firepower to sustain new investments in infrastructure, eroding a core pillar of China’s growth model, he said.

Much of the focus on potential asset bubbles in China has been on the property sector, but Roche suggested that housing-price inflation is intertwined with unsustainable gains in other areas.

***

A slowing Chinese economy could also have ramifications for the resource sector.

A scaling back of the infrastructure-building binge is negative for industrial commodity prices such as copper and iron ore, with the latter potentially slumping 50%, he said.

“I would not own resource stocks,” Roche said.

Iron ore prices to fall by 50%?

Hmmmmm… any guesses what that would do to the “super profits” of mining companies? And to the “great big new tax” that Rudd Labor is relying on to get the budget back to surplus?

UPDATE:

Calculated Risk notes that the Shanghai Composite Index is falling already –

Keep an eye on the Shanghai index (in red). It appears China’s economy is slowing.

Shanghai SSE in red (click to enlarge)

Surpluses By Sophists

13 May

Stephen Bartholomeusz at Business Spectator shines a brilliant, all-revealing light on the Rudd Labor “return to surplus”. Unsurprisingly, he shows that the government’s latest budget is really just an exercise in pure political sophistry:

Wayne Swan might claim that the Federal Budget wasn’t a political document but the lengths the government has gone to so it is able to forecast a $1 billion surplus in 2012-13 while still being able to announce some popular pre-election spending tends to contradict his stance. In fact the budget represents a very clever political strategy.

It is a strategy built on the mislabelled resource super profits tax and the increase in tobacco excise announced just ahead of the budget. Without those taxes the surplus wouldn’t have arrived three years earlier than originally forecast, assuming it does arrivethe whole budget is predicated on a massive windfall from the terms of trade generated by a continuing book in commodities.

The really clever bit is that Swan and Rudd know that the opposition can’t support the RSPT, at least in its present form.

By dedicating the revenues they say they will raise from that tax to spending on health, superannuation, cuts to company taxes et al they appear to have funded the core of their platform and will be able to go into the election with the cloak of fiscal rectitude – even though the detail of the tax and the actual revenue it will raise, if any, won’t be known until after the election.

The opposition, therefore, if it wants to match the government in terms of fiscal credibility and deliver that surplus in three year’s time, will start at least $12 billion behind it. It will either have to propose slashing spending or raising taxes, or both to fill in that gap.

The government is presumably betting that the RSPT and its attack on greedy miners and their foreign owners will play favourably in the electorate, particularly as the tax will be dedicated to probably popular measures. So, the opposition will be accused of supporting big miners and opposing worthy spending if it opposes the tax and the measures it is supposed to fund.

After the election, of course, if the Rudd government were returned, their planned protracted ‘consultation’ with the resource sector could, and almost certainly will, lead to significant changes to the detail of the tax.

However, while it might look like clever politics, the RSPT is destructive economics which is going to have a chilling effect on resource industry investment until it is finalised and certainty is restored and which will have long-term and damaging implications for perceptions of sovereign risk and Australia’s attitude towards foreign investment and investors, given the way the sector was ambushed by the nature of the tax and the language the government has used in promoting it.

Whether the tax is ultimately imposed in its current form or redesigned, it won’t raise the revenue the government is claiming it will to get to that $1 billion surplus and, in the meantime an increasingly angry resource sector is telling the world that Australia is now a less attractive and less stable destination for mining sector investment – direct or portfolio.

The RSPT might represent a clever political strategy but the way it has been unveiled and the anti-industry and xenophobic language the government has used to leverage the political mileage in it is increasingly damaging to the national interest.

Bubble Proof: Chinese Maids Buying Houses

3 May

Unsure about the conflicting arguments in the ‘expert’ commentariat about whether China is in a massive real estate bubble?  Consider real-world anecdotes like those following, related by former Morgan Stanley chief economist and now independent Hong Kong-based economist Andy Xie, who has predicted that an overwhelming “get rich quick” mentality has doomed the Chinese economy.

From a must-read article in BusinessWeek:

“My maid just asked for leave,” a friend in Beijing told me recently. “She’s rushing home to buy property. I suggested she borrow 70 percent, so she could cap the loss.”

It wasn’t the first time I had heard such a story in China. Some friends in Shanghai have told me similar ones. It seems all the housemaids are rushing into the market at the same time.

There are benefits to housekeeping for fund managers. China’s housemaids may be Asia’s answer to the shoeshine boy whose stock tips prompted Joseph Kennedy to sell his shares before the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

Another friend recently vacationed in the southern island- resort city of Sanya in Hainan province and felt compelled to visit a development sales office. Everyone she knew had bought there already. It’s either buy or be unsocial.

“You should buy two,” the sharp sales girl suggested. “In three years, the price will have doubled. You could sell one and get one free.”

How could anyone resist an offer like that?

The evidence in official-corruption cases no longer involves cash stashed in refrigerators or starlet mistresses in Versace clothing. The evidence is now apartments. One mid-level official in Shanghai was caught with 24 of them.

China is in the throes of a vast property mania. First, let me make it perfectly clear that calling China’s real-estate market a “bubble” isn’t denying China’s development success. As optimism is an essential ingredient in a bubble, economic success is a necessary condition. Nor am I saying that prices will drop tomorrow. A bubble evolves and bursts in its own time.

China On ‘Treadmill To Hell’ Amid Bubble

9 Apr

From Bloomberg:

China’s property market is a bubble that may burst by as early as this year, according to hedge fund manager James Chanos.

The world’s third-biggest economy may need to keep up the pace of property investment because up to 60 percent of its gross domestic product relies on construction, said Chanos. The bubble may begin to “run its course” in late-2010 or 2011, he said in an interview on “The Charlie Rose Show” that will air on PBS and Bloomberg TV.

China is “on a treadmill to hell,” said Chanos, who said in January the nation is Dubai times a thousand. “They can’t afford to get off this heroin of property development. It is the only thing keeping the economic growth numbers growing.”

Property prices in China rose at the fastest pace in almost two years in February even after officials this year re-imposed a tax on homes sold within five years of their purchase to curb speculation and ordered banks to set aside more funds as reserves to cool lending. The boom in China’s real estate has fueled concern that China may face a collapse seen in Dubai that has hurt the ability of some of its companies to repay debt.

Since his January prediction, Chanos, the founder of Kynikos Associates Ltd, has been joined by Gloom, Doom & Boom publisher Marc Faber and Harvard University professor Kenneth Rogoff in warning of a potential crash in China’s property market.

Barnaby Joyce has been warning about the external threats to the Australian economy since October 2009.  With every passing month, more and more evidence coming from economies around the world – including those such as China that are vital to Australia’s economic interests – indicates that there is big trouble brewing.  While the Ken Henry-led Rudd Government slumbers on in La La Land, spending like drunken sailors, confident of an unending China boom to lift us out of debt, more and more economists abroad are predicting a China crash.

Barnaby is also the only Australian politician with the courage to publicly question the Rudd Government’s weakening of Foreign Investment laws, which have allowed foreign ‘investors’ to help spike Australia’s already unaffordable housing bubble, and put our ownership of vital national assets at risk.  Only Barnaby Joyce has had the courage to call out the Rudd Government for ‘selling the farm’, paddock by paddock.

China Losing Control of Economy

8 Apr

From Bloomberg:

Failure to rein in local government spending could push inflation to 15 percent by 2012, said Victor Shih, a political economist at Northwestern University who spent months tallying government borrowing.

“Increasingly the choice facing the government is between inflation or bad loans,” said Shih, author of the book “Finance and Factions in China,” who teaches political science at the university in Evanston, Illinois. “The only mechanism for controlling inflation in China is credit restriction, but if they use that, this show is over — a gigantic wave of bad loans will appear on banks’ balance sheets.”

Attempts to curb borrowing by raising interest rates would boost debt-servicing costs for local governments. At the same time, tightening credit may stall projects, triggering “a build-up of bad loans,” the Basel, Switzerland-based Bank for International Settlements said in a quarterly report in December.

Sun Mingchun, an economist with Nomura in Hong Kong, estimates local governments have proposed projects with a value of more than 20 trillion yuan since the stimulus package was announced in November 2008.

Should the boom end in a property-market collapse, even those stocks tied to the local government projects will be affected along with most other industries, said Shanghai-based independent economist Andy Xie, formerly Morgan Stanley’s chief Asia economist.

“Corporate profits are very much driven by the property sector,” said Xie. “The largest sectors will be hit hard, especially banks and insurance companies.”

A gauge of property stocks has fallen more than 6 percent this year after more than doubling in 2009 as the government takes steps to cool rising prices, including raising the deposit requirement to 20 percent of the minimum price of auctioned land. Property sales were equivalent to 13 percent of gross domestic product last year.

“Policy makers may need to start thinking about how to handle the aftermath of the bust,” said Nomura’s Sun.

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