China's hot property market and its implications on the global economy has been on the minds of many investors, and for good reason.
In January, Barclays published its latest Skyscraper Index report, which tracks links between the rise in construction of tall buildings and economic busts over the past 140 years. This could be purely coincidental, but the index suggests that the East Asian giant is the world's "biggest bubble builder," and is on its way to an economic bust. China already has half of the world's existing skyscrapers (or buildings higher than 240 meters). And it plans to add more over the next several years.
但是，别对这个指数过度解读。没错，正如巴克莱所指，美国大萧条（the Great Depression）的时间与曼哈顿地区三幢地标性摩天大楼的建造时间一致：华尔街40号大厦（40 Wall Street，现名为川普大厦——译注）于1929年完工，克莱斯勒大厦（Chrysler Building）于1930年建成，帝国大厦（Empire State Building）于1931年落成。
However, let's not read into this too much. It's true, as Barclays notes, that the Great Depression coincided with the construction of three landmark skyscrapers across Manhattan: 40 Wall Street completed in 1929, followed by the Chrysler Building in 1930, and the Empire State Building in 1931.
No doubt, China's property prices have risen rapidly beyond the reach of much of the country's middle class. And there's reason to believe prices will certainly slide during what's expected to be a rocky economic year, but prices won't crash. Here's why:
China's nation of savers
It was the no-money-down mentality that partly brought down America's housing market. While it would be a stretch to compare the U.S. market to China's, it's worth noting that our neighbors to the East are nowhere near as leveraged.
China is known as a nation of savers, and consumers are relatively debt-wary, in part because the country doesn't have the kind of educational and health care safety nets that its Western neighbors enjoy.
What's more, Chinese officials trying to clamp down on rapidly rising prices have directly placed limits on how much homebuyers (and speculators) can borrow. For primary-home buyers, the government has set a minimum down payment of 30% of the home's total sale price while buyers of second homes must put down at least 60%.
In 2010, a total of 4.4 trillion renminbi (or about $697 billion) of residential buildings were sold in China. However, mortgage loans outstanding were far less, at 1.4 trillion renminbi (or $222 billion), according to a JP Morgan November 2011 report on China's housing market.
"As a result, the probability of mortgage default is quite low," analysts say, adding that the quality of mortgage loans will "remain solid" even under the hypothetical scenario that home prices drop by 30%.
There's plenty of pent-up demand
西方国家拥有大量投资渠道来吸纳投资者的资金，相比之下，大多数中国人认为相对安全的投资品种只有房地产等少数几个选择。总部位于上海的中国市场研究集团（China Market Research Group）董事总经理雷小山表示，随着中国居民的收入增加以及越来越多的农村人口进入城市（1月份，中国城镇人口数量在中国历史上首次超过农村），住房需求预计将继续保持强劲。
While the Western world has plenty of available options for investors to park their money, housing is considered one of the few relatively safe investments to most Chinese. As incomes rise and as more of the country's population is expected to move into urban areas (in January, China's urban population surpassed that of its rural areas for the first time in the country's history), demand for housing is expected to remain robust, says Shaun Rein, managing director of China Market Research Group, a Shanghai-based market research firm.
2012-02-09 11:36 编辑：kuaileyingyu