Andy Xie: China Property is a "B’-Word, But That’s Only Part of the Problem

Andy Xie weighs in on China’s real estate-related lending reforms, and he find them wanting:

China’s property market is a massive bubble. The stock of residential properties, developers’ inventories, and land that local governments have pledged to banks may exceed by three times the gross domestic product. Rental yields in most cities are too low to cover depreciation costs. In major cities, the price-to-income ratio, a measure of housing affordability, is routinely above 20, which means that it would take an average mainlander 20 years to buy the average property using their total income. The bubble can still continue because China’s banking system has plenty of liquidity – thanks partly to hot money and because local governments have many levers to channel bank liquidity into the market. But the longer the bubble lasts, the more damage it will do to the economy.

But here is the real kicker:

The stability of a modern society depends on its middle class being in the majority and content with its situation. The high land-price policy is a form of tax on the middle class, which will slow its growth. China may become a country with a small group of the super-rich, a vast lower class with no property, and a small middle class. Such a social structure would not be good for long-term stability.

More here.