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

By DESMOND LACHMAN
Tue, Jan 30, 2024 11:31amGrey 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 favorably 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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The celebrity power couple are selling the 12-bedroom, 24-bathroom home barely a year after buying it

By BECKIE STRUM
Fri, Jul 12, 2024 2 min

Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck have officially put their massive Los Angeles mansion on the market for $68 million.

The lavish Beverly Hills property hit listing sites on Thursday, months after rumours began that the couple, who are reportedly estranged , were shopping the home around only a year after buying it for nearly $61 million.

The roughly 5-acre property—which is in a gated community and spans a massive 38,000 square feet—includes an indoor sports court with an adjacent gym and games room, according to the listing with Santiago Arana of the Agency. The firm declined to comment.

Lopez and Affleck paid $60.8 million for the compound in 2023.
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Built in 2000, the house has 12 bedrooms and a whopping 24 bathrooms. The resort-sized property has the amenities to match, including a V-shaped pool with views over the surrounding hills, a detached two-bedroom guardhouse and a 5,000-square-foot guest penthouse, according to the listing.

Listing images of the house show that Lopez and Affleck have spent the past year warming up what were fairly white-washed interiors when they purchased the home. There’s now a rich, green-painted dining room, hardwood floors and carpeted over cold, polished-stone flooring.

The couple, who got married in 2022 after reuniting some 20 years after they called off their engagement in the early 2000s, purchased the megamansion following a house hunt that went on for several months, The Wall Street Journal reported at the time.

Representatives for Lopez, 54, and Affleck, 51, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.