The Chinese Housing Ponzi Exposed: "As We Sell Our First Apartments, We’ll Have Cash Flow To Build The Next Stage"

Tyler Durden's picture

Much has been said here and elsewhere about not only China's ghost cities - that final resting place where trillions in Chinese GDP "fixed investment" goes to quietly die but no before contributing to over half of China's GPD - over the past five years, but also about the bursting of the Chinese housing bubble in the past several months now that the Beijing Politburo has drastically slowed down the pace of loan creation and the country has shocked its bond investors by admitting failure is an all too real possibility. This post will therefore hardly reveal anything new, however it will provide some perspective on how from one of the most important industries for China's suddenly cooling economy, housing has becoming nothing more (or less) than one giant Ponzi scheme.

Here are some of the soundbites of a recent Bloomberg piece showing how "Xi’s Squeeze Leaves China’s Heartland Missing Boom" covering such exciting topics as:

... Bubbles:

Cities in China are facing some serious real estate bubbles, and the bubbles in third-, fourth-tier cities have the risks of total collapse,” said Tao Ran, director of the China Center for Public Economics and Governance at Renmin University in Beijing, in a phone interview on March 31. “The central government and banks tightened credit in the property market because they realized the risks.”

... Collateral

That makes it harder for Zhu Houlun, 43, who took over as Laohekou party secretary in August 2012 with plans to merge with neighboring Gucheng by building a new urban center on 70 square kilometers (27 square miles) of farming communities between the two. The project would create a city of 700,000 by 2020, more than double Laohekou’s existing urban population, according to a Xiangyang government report.


Zhu must rely on private developers like Liu Pingfeng, from neighboring Hunan province, who is building a 5 billion yuan project north of Laohekou called the Red River Valley Eco-Tourism Resort that includes apartments, a five-star hotel, a theme park and a polo club.


Raising funds is very difficult,” said Liu, 47, who has been building in Hunan for a decade. “I used to use land as collateral -- as long as I got the land certificate I could get the loan. Now it’s almost impossible.”

... Musical fountains:

In Red River’s muddy construction site by the river, there are clusters of concrete skeletons that Liu says are due to open in October as shops, cafes, bars and a fitness center. Nearby is a hole in the ground the size of a football field that will be a musical fountain.

... KFCs:

Downtown Laohekou shows how far the city has lagged behind development in the east. Rows of weather-stained four- and five-story buildings line the streets, with shopfronts selling liquor, cheap household goods and clothes. There’s no department store, no passenger railway station, no KFC -- the Yum! Brands Inc. (YUM) chain found in 900 other Chinese cities and townships. The nearest civilian airport is an hour’s drive away.

... Social problems:

“Local government officials are still very fixated on economic growth,” said Lynette Ong, an associate professor at the University of Toronto who wrote the 2012 book “Prosper or Perish: The Political Economy of Credit and Fiscal Systems in Rural China.” “Without growth, a lot of social problems like unemployment will surface.”

... from ashes to ashes, from ghost town to ghost town:

The expansion on the coast was largely fed by immigrants from provinces like Hubei that are now struggling to lure them back. On a February morning in Laohekou’s cavernous and unheated labor exchange, a single jobseeker scans the vacancies posted on the back wall, while five female staff clutch thermoses of hot drinks to keep warm.


“It’s hard to hire people here,” said Zhang Hongju, one of the staff. “The young people have all gone to Guangdong and those who haven’t need to stay home to take care of elderly family or kids.”


In Chen Genxin’s village, slated to be demolished to make way for China Dreamland, he says everyone is over 50. His sons left during the boom to get jobs in other cities. “If the country wants us to tear it down, we’ll tear it down,” said Chen, 71, as he harvests spinach from his small plot with his wife in the afternoon sun. “The earth will bury me wherever I go.”

... and, of course, the fact that it is all one massive Ponzi scheme:

In Red River’s muddy construction site by the river, there are clusters of concrete skeletons that Liu says are due to open in October as shops, cafes, bars and a fitness center. Nearby is a hole in the ground the size of a football field that will be a musical fountain.


The soaring cost of loans means Liu will build and sell Red River in stages. “As we sell our first batch of apartments, we’ll have cash flow to build the next stage,” he said in an interview in February in Laohekou.

Finally, some pictures:

A construction-site hoarding displays an artist's impression of a development containing Tiffany and Louis Vuitton shops in Luying village on the outskirts of Laohekou, Hubei Province, China

Chen Genxin, farmer, and his wife stand for a photograph at their plot of land which is going to be requisitioned to make way for the China Dreamland residential and tourism project by Sichuan Hengxinyuanda Investment Group on the outskirts of Laohekou, Hubei Province, China


The new Laohekou Number 1 Middle School stands under construction on the outskirts of Laohekou, Hubei Province, China, on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014.

China Dreamland residential and tourism project by Sichuan Hengxinyuanda Investment Group stands under construction on the outskirts of Laohekou,

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
fonestar's picture


fonestar likes it when double D's are exposed.

Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Fine print in brochure for China housing project is reading:

"Yuan bai nu hausu, wi meiku fo yu,... ba yu mas wei ting fo fyu cha bai ya tu pei."

codecode's picture

What's a "plot of land which is going to be requisitioned" go for now-a-days?

old naughty's picture


"China news agency, Beijing, April 23 (Reporter Zhou Rui) - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on the 23rd chaired a State Council executive meeting, listed as private capital involved in transportation infrastructure, oil and gas pipelines and other facilities for a total of 80 projects, "Investment Menu" and promised to let the market "engine" is more powerful."

Translated using google. Link here.

Two-bits's picture

OT threadjack:   Everyone knows cops lie, but now it is precedent to allow them to perjure themselves.


 A seemingly routine suppression hearing in a suburban Chicago courthouse last month took an unexpected dramatic turn when video from a police car was introduced that disproved the testimony of five police officers.

They had said Joseph Sperling was arrested after officers who pulled him over in a traffic stop smelled marijuana, searched the vehicle and found nearly a pound in a backpack lying on the back seat of his car. But the Glenview police video showed the search occurred only after Sperling was taken from his car, frisked and handcuffed, reports the Chicago Tribune (sub. req.). The newspaper dubbed it "a 'Perry Mason' moment rarely seen inside an actual courtroom."

Castigating the officers for their "outrageous conduct," Cook County Circuit Judge Catherine Haberkorn granted a defense motion to suppress the search, which eliminated a basis for his arrest and resulted in a swift dismissal by prosecutors of the felony drug case against the 23-year-old.

"All the officers lied on the stand today," said Haberkorn, who herself is a former prosecutor, at the March 31 hearing. "So there is strong evidence it was conspiracy to lie in this case, for everyone to come up with the same lie."

The officers were later put on desk duty as investigations of their conduct proceed.

Article here.

What fucking investigation? Madam clerk, will you read back the part where the officers perjured themselves.  There is your investigation.  Two sets of laws.


The law of the land is a farce.  The police state indeed. 

lordylord's picture

Cops are pieces of shit is common knowledge, so I don't know why you had to hijack the thread, but...

1) Nullification should be used more to fight government and their insane laws

2) I predict that cop uniforms will be quickly burned by their owners when SHTF.  I bet you won't find a single person admitting to being a lawyer, banker, judge, politician, or cop in the "before times".

Almost Solvent's picture

I bet you won't find a single person admitting to being a lawyer, banker, judge, politician, or cop in the "before times".


Poppycock - unless they move away, people are going to know exactly who they are.

JuliaS's picture

There's internet. We can track down every single one of those mofos.

zaphod's picture

They will all get a free 6-month fully paid vacation, and then come back to being a cop until they "retire" with full benefts at age 50. 

hobopants's picture

An entire country betting their future on a quote from Field Of Dreams.

Zero Hung's picture

On this we all agree

Mammaries sized DD

Lends regression to 'Bitty'

Sweet hooters and titties

Sign me up as trainee

assistedliving's picture

Bloomberg news 16:52 23 April:  Angelo Mozilo named new head of BOC

AG BCN's picture

Old Chinese Resturant joke.

Customer complains: This chickens rubbery.

Waiter: Fank you velly much. 

Almost Solvent's picture

My favorite fortune in the 'cookie': That was not chicken

BandGap's picture

Are there no fucking trees in China? WTF?


ForTheWorld's picture

Apparently no clear sky either.

Sofa King Confused's picture

Those ghost cities will fill up quickly after WW III is over.

Seasmoke's picture

That's great to know. A new LV store is opening. I may have to visit. 

NEOSERF's picture

Question is whether LV knows about it yet...

carbonmutant's picture

China has more experience in building modern cities than anyone else on the planet....

walküre's picture

They've got as much experience in building modern cities as Koreans have experience in driving ferries and evacuating sinking ships.

Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Maybe more experience than Malaysia fly plane or Japan operate nuclear reactor?

walküre's picture

North Korea takes the prize in building Nukes and missiles. That entire region is full of superior ingenuity.

Collectivist statists are superior at everything because that is what their government's mandate is.

When government says it's so, it must be so! Same shit everywhere government runs the economy!

Boris Alatovkrap's picture

North Korea nuclear is build by Japan in WWII. Is left remaining when Japan army is flee peninsula.

OpenThePodBayDoorHAL's picture

Since 2008, China has built *50* Manhattans. Yep, Fif-ty

Uh-huh this is gonna work out great

ptolemy_newit's picture

The time lines for movements in populations are alot longer when you have 


A new car program takes 4 years?  20 million educated young move to cities take 10 to 15 years?

You have to build them,  what the f.

Yea coonstruction is shit,  so the youth will mordernize.



carbonmutant's picture

On the other hand...

Last week the Chinese environment ministry said 16% of China’s soil contains higher-than-permitted levels of pollution.

Now, the ministry of land and resources says 59.6% of the nation’s water is either moderately or seriously polluted. That’s up 2.2 percentage points year-over-year.

A few years ago the government launched a massive project to clean and conserve water but the Chinese model of growth is incompatible with the environmental restraints. -Forex Live

pods's picture

To borrow from American art:

The Chinese are playing the part of Nicolas Cage in Leaving Los Vegas.

I think investors are playing the part of Elisabeth Shue.


Toolshed's picture

"China has more experience in building BADLY ENGINEERED AND POORLY BUILT modern cities than anyone else on the planet...."


prains's picture

pro tip: the ponzi isn't just in China, they're just coming to terms with theirs


there is a big difference bewtween a chinese ponzi crash and a USA/EU ponzi crash.....about a billion chinese can go back to where they came from, susbsistence farming. It's a knowledge base and eperience that is still part of most families skill set. They can make it work. Western countries can't boil water, make a fire or grow a pair. We will become the zombie nations, china, not so much

cro_maat's picture

You can "grow a pair"?!!! Don't tell DHS or that process will be outlawed as terrorism.

Last I looked the matrix was designed to shrivel, shrink and decapitate said pair.

prains's picture

LOL, my pair answer to a higher power...


the wife

Agent P's picture

No KFCs?  WTF Laohekou?  This will not stand! 

Stuck on Zero's picture

What's the national bird of China?

The construction crane.



pods's picture

What is the favorite chewing gum in China?

Bubblicious of course.


Tenshin Headache's picture

If you build it, they will come.

Doubleguns's picture

They can live in a bubble. No sharp objects please. 

Randy Goodnight's picture

Yeah, but that can't happen in the US.


ebworthen's picture

Reminds me of all the empty strip malls in my area.

They'll build a 12 store L-shaped strip mall on the edge of town, and it sits.

Fading "For Lease" signs and empty windows; tumbleweeds and crickets.  But they keep building them.

The_Small_Lebowski's picture

Stage 1) Collect fiat currency from all over the world, and also print as much as you can, and then some

Stage 2) Use the fiat currency to build enough infrastructure for the next 10-20 years

Stage 3) Buy as much gold as you can with whatever is left

Stage 4) Watch as the rest of the fiat world collapses, all the while happy with what you have built, and a shed load of gold

stage 5) Profit??

walküre's picture

Stupid on a magnitude of beyond anything mankind has ever fucked up. The amount of resources and energy the Chinese have burnt through especially in the last five years just to show their fucking growth numbers is insane. NOTHING can compensate for this when it comes crashing down. The Chinese are doomed to die in large numbers as they are replacing farmland with concrete ghost towns. At least some of the bogus wealth is invested into solar projects in Nevada and tar sand projects in Canada where it's not interfering with anyone.. oh wait.

magnetosphere's picture

where exactly is the farmland being converted to concrete?

when in doubt it is often better to keep your mouth closed and have people suspect you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt

pods's picture

Is everywhere in China hazy/smoggy/foggy?

This is blow in a pit bull's face stupid.  And I thought that Dolly Parton theater on the side of I-95 was dumb. Sheesh.

With every China article I am fearing less and less from them.

That place might even collapse before the US does.



DoChenRollingBearing's picture

I believe the same, pods.  China will not destroy America, we can (and will) do it ourselves...