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Barclays Predicts “Multi-year Slowdown” for China's Real Estate Market


If you think China’s stock market is troublesome, check out its real estate market. Turns out the two are pretty closely linked, and as government rescue efforts come to an end, Barclays believes a period of significantly slowed growth could be on the horizon. Let’s take a look at the numbers:

Last month, more than 20 million people (practically a third of the country’s individual investors) left the stock market, the Wall Street Journal reports. The number of retail investors holding stocks dropped from 75 million to 51 million, and the Shanghai Composite Index took it’s biggest monthly hit in six years, slipping 14%, and landing 29% below its June 12 peak. By the end of July, investors lost $1.1 trillion.

Now for the scary part:

Investment commands a 48% share of GDP in China, according to Bloomberg. That’s significantly larger than in any other emerging economy. Since 2000, real estate has jumped from below 4% GDP to about 15%. Yet, supply is overwhelming demand, creating a surplus of inventory that’s worse than in 2012 or 2014, Business Insider point out. There’s actually about 14 months of spare inventory in the big 10 cities. Meanwhile, other parts of the economy, like steel, are heavily affected by real estate. And to make matters worse, about 40% to 45% of China’s debt is real estate-related.

Barclays predicts a “sustained slowdown” is in the cards for China’s economy. It’s not expected to be a full on collapse, but more of a period of slow, sustainable growth (yet still projected to be much slower than investors thought).

So what are people doing with this information?

They’re fleeing the market. Investors like ZZ Xu, a restaurateur who pulled out of the market just in time for the July rout, are hesitant to return. Xu managed to exit with a multi-million dollar profit, but he’s moved some of his money back into his businesses. And new investors aren’t looking at the downturn as an opportunity to grab a bargain either. The number of new investors was down 20% in the week ending on July 24, compared to the corresponding week in June.

And of course, there are those who are looking to major cities like the Big Apple for more stability. For example, Forbes reported that billionaire Lu Zhiqiang’s (pictured) China Oceanwide Holdings is expanding to New York. It’s agreeing to drop $390M on NYC real estate, picking up properties at 80 South Street and 163 Front Street, but Zhiqiang plans to expand his reach to other areas like finance and energy.

[WSJ] [BB] [BI] [Forbes]