Jim Chanos Debunks The Myth Of China As The World's "White Knight"

Tyler Durden's picture

One of the recurring themes on Zero Hedge in the past several months has been the continued mockery of the seemingly global conventional idiocy that China can bail out the world, when it itself is on the verge of a huge credit bubble popping and requiring the rescue of China itself by the rest of the global pyramid scheme (which however will be far too busy monetizing its own debt by then). Why, we vividly recall this quote from July 4, "So let's get this straight: a country which has 10% of its GDP in the form of bad debt, is somehow expected to be credible enough to buy not only Greek debt, but the EURUSD each and every day? Mmmmk. In the meantime, Dagong downgrades the US to junk status in 5, 4, 3..." Well, Dagong did since downgrade the US (as did S&P), although not to junk just yet, and somehow the world still continues to labor under the illusion that China (whose shadow banking system we also covered most recently here), is somehow healthy because it is far better than Europe (and the US) in hiding the true severity of its problems. Naturally, as long as that persists, the global ponzi will always have the benefit of pulling out a "white knight" whenever needed, regardless of just how ludicrous such an presumption has become. Today, famous China bear Jim Chanos appeared on Bloomberg TV and recapped his thesis which summarizes the bulk of these points, further extrapolating based on the Andy Lees analysis posted yesterday which estimates what a true economic growth rate is when one factors for bad debt and loss severities. His conclusion: "If we assume that China will grow total credit this year between 30% to 40% of GDP, and half of that debt will go bad, that is 15% to 20%.  Say the recoveries on that are 50%. That means that China, on an after write off basis, may not be growing at all. It may be having to simply write off some of this stuff in the future so its 9% growth may be zero." And this stagnant, overlevered behemoth is somehow supposed to be... the world's white knight?

Highlights:

On the Chinese government's balance sheet:

"The Chinese government's balance sheet directly does not have a lot of debt. The state-owned enterprises of the local governments and all the other ancillary borrowing vehicles have lots of debt and its growing at a very fast rate. The assumption is that the state stands behind all this debt. We see that the debt in China, implicitly backed by the Chinese government, probably has gone from about 100% of GDP to about 200% of GDP recently. Those are numbers that are staggering. Those are European kind of numbers if not worse."

On how a Chinese property bubble will play out:

"I think that will be the surprise going into this year, and into 2012 - that it is not so strong. The property market is hitting the wall right now and things are decelerating. The CEO of Komatsu said last week that he is having trouble getting paid for his excavator sales in China. Developers are being squeezed. They're turning to the black market for lending, this shadow banking system that is growing by leaps and bounds like everything in China.

"Regulators over there are really trying to get their hands around the problem. In the meantime, local governments have every incentive to just keep the game going. So they will continue with these projects, continuing to borrow as the central government tries to rein it in."

Chanos on his long and short positions:

"We are short Chinese banks, the property developers, commodity companies that sell into China, anything related to property there is still a short."

"We are long the Macau casinos. It's our long corruption, short property play. We feel that there's American management and American accounting. They are growing at a faster rate even than the property developers."

On the IMF lowering growth estimates for China:

"A lot of people are assuming that half of all new loans in China are going to go bad. In fact, the Chinese government even said that last year relating to the local governments. If we assume that China will grow total credit this year between 30% to 40% of GDP, and half of that debt will go bad, that is 15% to 20%.  Say the recoveries on that are 50%. That means that China, on an after write off basis, may not be growing at all. It may be having to simply write off some of this stuff in the future so its 9% growth may be zero."