China’s Wobbles Could Throw the Global Economy Off Its Axis
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China’s Wobbles Could Throw the Global Economy Off Its Axis

By DESMOND LACHMAN
Tue, Jan 30, 2024 9:03amGrey Clock 3 min

About the author: Desmond Lachman is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He was previously a deputy director in the International Monetary Fund’s Policy Development and Review Department and the chief emerging market economic strategist at Salomon Smith Barney.

Today, a Hong Kong court ordered the liquidation of Evergrande, a Chinese company that was one of the world’s largest property developers. After years of fruitless negotiations between the company and its creditors over the restructuring of its $300 billion debt mountain, a Chinese court said that “enough was enough.” In a blow to an already troubled Chinese housing market, it ordered that the company’s assets be liquidated to pay back its creditors.

How mainland China handles Hong Kong’s court order could have major implications for Chinese property prices and foreign investor confidence. If it enforces the court’s order, that could see an acceleration in Chinese home-price declines by adding to supply in an already glutted market. It could also heighten social tensions by disappointing around 1.5 million Chinese households who have put down large deposits for homes that are yet to be completed.

If it ignores the Hong Kong court’s order, it risks dealing a further blow to waning investor confidence. Questions would arise about China’s willingness to abide by the rule of law and to offer a safe economic environment for investors.

The Evergrande liquidation comes at an awkward time for the Chinese economy. It is already in deep trouble and could be headed for a Japanese-style lost economic decade. The news also suggests that China will disappoint the consensus view that the Chinese economy is headed for only a minor economic slowdown this year. This could have major implications for the U.S. and world economic outlook, considering that China is the world’s second-largest economy and until recently was its main engine of economic growth.

Even before Evergrande’s liquidation order, a whole set of indicators suggested that the former Chinese economic growth model was dead. Chinese home prices have been falling for more than a year; both wholesale and consumer prices have been falling; stock prices have plummeted as foreign investors have taken fright; and youth unemployment has risen to around 20%.

There have also been questions about President Xi Jinping’s economic stewardship. First, his disastrous zero-tolerance Covid policy contributed to the country’s slowest economic growth in 30 years. Now his increased economic intervention is undermining the underpinnings of the Chinese economic growth miracle unleashed by Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms in the 1980s.

Chinese stocks rose last week on news that authorities are taking steps to stimulate the economy. But anyone thinking that the Chinese economy will respond favourably to yet another round of policy stimulus has not been paying attention to the size of that country’s housing and credit market bubble that has now burst. Nor have they been paying attention to the troubling degree to which that country’s economy has become unbalanced.

According to Harvard’s Ken Rogoff, the Chinese property market now accounts for almost 30% of that country’s GDP. That is around 50% more than that in most developed economies. Meanwhile, over the past decade Chinese credit to its non financial private sector expanded by 100% of GDP, according to the Bank for International Settlements. That is a larger rate of credit expansion than that which preceded Japan’s lost economic decade in the 1990s and that which preceded the 2008 bursting of the U.S. subprime and housing market.

The overall Chinese economy is highly unbalanced in the sense that it has become overly reliant on investment demand. The Chinese investment-to-GDP ratio is over 40%, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That’s sharply higher than the more normal 25% ratio in most other developed and mid-sized emerging market economies.

The consensus forecast is that Chinese economic growth this year will continue at a 5% clip. Anyone relying on that forecast should reflect on the many failures by the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central bankers to foresee the grave problems of the subprime housing market in the U.S. in early 2008. It would seem that most economists are downplaying indications of major Chinese economic problems that are plain sight. Chinese economic problems could unleash serious deflationary forces for the U.S. and global economy. The Federal Reserve would be ignoring them at its peril.

Guest commentaries like this one are written by authors outside the Barron’s and MarketWatch newsroom. They reflect the perspective and opinions of the authors.



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We reveal the No. 1 areas for price growth in each capital city

By Bronwyn Allen
Thu, Jul 18, 2024 3 min

Home values across Australia rose by a median 8 percent in FY24, delivering the equivalent of $59,000 in new capital growth to the two-thirds of the population that owns a home, according to CoreLogic data. Investors received total returns of 12.2 percent over the year, including capital gains and gross rental income.

Very tight supply and demand in most capital cities except Melbourne and Hobart was a significant driver of the capital growth, with the smaller and more affordable capital cities of Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide experiencing the most price appreciation over the year. A lack of properties for sale trumped the usual dampening effect of higher interest rates.

As usual, some areas outperformed their city’s median growth benchmark. Here are the top SA3 areas for capital growth in each capital city of Australia in FY24. SA3 areas are large suburbs, or districts incorporating clusters of suburbs, with more than 20,000 residents.

 

Sydney

Home values across Sydney rose by a median 6.3 percent in FY24. The No. 1 area for growth was Mount Druitt. Its median value rose by 13.96 percent to $859,939. Mount Druitt is located 33km west of the CBD. It incorporates the suburbs of Mount Druitt, Ropes Crossing, Whalan and Minchinbury. The Mount Druitt community is very multicultural with almost one in two residents born overseas. It is home to many young families, with the median age of residents being 33 compared to the NSW median of 39.

 

Melbourne

Home values across Melbourne rose by a median 1.3 percent in FY24. The top area for capital growth was Moreland-North with 4.71 percent growth. This took the district’s median home value to $746,488. Moreland-North includes the suburbs of Hadfield, Pascoe Vale and Glenroy. It’s a multicultural community with a particularly large contingent of residents with Italian ancestry. One or both parents of 66 percent of residents were born overseas, according to the 2021 Census.

 

Brisbane

Home values across Brisbane rose by a median 15.8 percent in FY24. The No. 1 area for growth was Springwood-Kingston in Logan City. Its median value swelled by 25.55 percent to $710,569. Springwood-Kingston is approximately 22km south of Brisbane CBD. It incorporates the suburbs of Springwood, Kingston, Rochedale South and Slacks Creek. It is a multicultural community with one or both parents of 55 percent of the residents born overseas, according to the 2021 Census. More than 15 percent of residents have Irish or Scottish ancestry.

 

Adelaide

Home values across Adelaide rose by a median 15.4 percent in FY24. The best area for capital growth was Playford in Playford City. Its median value soared by 19.94 percent to $530,991. Playford is approximately 40km north of Adelaide. It incorporates the suburbs of Elizabeth Downs, Elizabeth Grove, Angle Vale and Virginia. It is home to many young people under the age of 40. The median age of residents is 33 compared to the state median of 41.

 

Perth 

Home values across Perth rose by a median 23.6 percent in FY24. The No. 1 area for growth was Kwinana in Kwinana City. Its median value skyrocketed by 33.19 percent to $618,925. Kwinana is approximately 37km south of Perth CBD. It includes the suburbs of Leda, Medina, Casuarina and Mandogalup. Henderson Naval Base is located here and there is a significant community of servicemen and ex-servicemen living in the area. It is home to many young families, with the median age of residents being 33 compared to the state median of 38.

 

Canberra

Home values across the nation’s capital rose by a median 2.2 percent in FY24. The best area for capital growth was Weston Creek. Its median value rose by 5.24 percent to $937,740. Weston Creek is approximately 13km south-west of the CBD. It includes the suburbs of Weston Creek, Holder, Duffy, Fisher and Chapman. Approximately 43 percent of residents have a bachelor’s degree, which is on par with the ACT median but much higher than the national median of 26 percent. Household incomes are about 35 percent higher than the national median. Almost one in five residents work in government administration jobs.

 

Hobart

Home values across Hobart fell 0.1 percent in FY24. The top performing area for capital gains was Sorell-Dodges Ferry with 2.78 percent growth. This took the area’s median home value to $615,973. Sorell-Dodges Ferry is approximately 25km north-west of Hobart. It incorporates the suburbs of Richmond, Sorell, Dodges Ferry, Carlton and Primrose Sands. The area has a large community of baby boomers and retirees, with the median age of residents being 43 compared to the Australian median of 38.

 

Darwin

Home values across Darwin rose by a median 2.4 percent in FY24. The No. 1 area for growth was Litchfield. Its median value moved 3.21 higher to $672,003. Litchfield is about 37km south-east of Darwin and includes the suburbs of Humpty Doo, Acacia Hills and Southport.  It has a high proportion of middle-aged residents, with the median age being 39 compared to the territory median of 33. About 12 percent of residents are Indigenous Australians. The biggest industries are government administration and defence. Median household incomes are about 35 percent higher than the national median.

 

MOST POPULAR
11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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