While the growth of China's ghost cities of entirely derelict and unlived-in residential real estate have become anathema; the story of the nation's 'if we build it they will come' commercial real estate bubble has been less exposed but is no less incredible. As Bloomberg reports, China’s project to build a replica Manhattan is taking shape against a backdrop of vacant office towers and unfinished hotels, underscoring the risks to a slowing economy from the nation’s unprecedented investment boom. Stunningly, the development has failed to attract tenants since the first building was finished in 2010 leaving one commercial real estate investor to proclaim, "Investing here won’t be better than throwing money into the water... There will be no way out - it will be very difficult to find the next buyer."
China's own Big Apple may be rotting from the core. A new central business district modeled after New York City is going up in Tianjin...but the nation's slowing economy is exacerbating the risks from its unprecedented credit binge...and that's putting China's Manhattan project in jeopardy. Bloomberg TV's China Correspondent Stephen Engle reports.
As Bloomberg explains,
The skyscraper-filled skyline of the Conch Bay district in the northern port city of Tianjin has none of a metropolis’s bustle up close, with dirt-covered glass doors and construction on some edifices halted. The area’s failure to attract tenants since the first building was finished in 2010 bodes ill across the Hai River for the separate Yujiapu development, which is modeled on New York’s Manhattan and remains in progress.
“Investing here won’t be better than throwing money into the water,” Zhang Zhihe, 60, said during a visit to the area last week from neighboring Hebei province to look at potential commercial-property investments. “There will be no way out -- it will be very difficult to find the next buyer.”
This is slowing growth dramatically as the realisation of building stuff that no one wants is not sustainable...
Tianjin, a city of 14.7 million people whose center is about 125 kilometers (78 miles) southeast of Beijing’s, saw its economic growth cool to 10.6 percent in the first quarter of 2014 from a year earlier, from 17.4 percent in full-year 2010, compared with a moderation in national expansion over the same period to 7.4 percent from 10.4 percent. An annual pace of 10.6 percent would be the weakest for Tianjin since 1999.
And Default risk is mounting...
“Both the central and local governments clearly know that a big slump in the property market will significantly magnify financial system risks, and they know it’s a delicate balance,” said Liu Li-Gang, chief Greater China economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in Hong Kong. The government will try to do everything to ensure an “orderly de-leveraging,” Liu said.
As the streets remain deserted... Ghost offices...
“There will have to be a reckoning,” as sales of bonds by local-government vehicles to repay bank loans are just “buying time,” he said. “The people will pay” for it through bank bailouts, recapitalization with public money or inflation.
But apart from that... and the residential real estate bubble.. and the commodsity financing ponzi scheme... and the promise of no major stimulus... we are sure China wil have a soft landing.