Sweeping mortgage boycott changes the face of dissent in China

Posted by Ed 21 mths ago
IN a country that only tolerates dissent in small doses — and relies on property as its economic growth engine — a mortgage boycott by hundreds of thousands of middle-class Chinese has become a five-alarm fire for authorities.

It began with a 590-word letter penned by angry purchasers of the half-built Dynasty Mansion project, whose pleas for China Evergrande Group to complete homes they’d long been paying for had fallen on deaf ears. “All homebuyers with outstanding mortgage loans will stop paying,” unless construction resumes before Oct. 20, they threatened.

The ultimatum raced across social media platforms WeChat and Douyin, becoming a call to action for those caught out by China’s rapidly deflating property bubble. In days, the letter became a template for protests from Shanghai to Beijing, and Shenzhen to Zhengzhou, with homeowners cutting and pasting from it to draft their own boycott manifestos. Within four weeks, more than 320 projects in about 100 cities were facing similar protests, roiling markets and forcing authorities to corral banks and developers to defuse the unrest.


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Ed 21 mths ago
‘Financial monsters’: China’s bad banks complicate property crisis

Distressed asset management companies highlight the challenge Beijing faces in mobilising rescue options
To contain the fallout from the Asian financial crisis two decades ago, Beijing set up a group of bad banks and packed them with the country’s most toxic debts. But with deepening distress in China’s property sector threatening to spark wider economic turmoil, those bad banks are now struggling to help.
The problem is that the balance sheets of China’s “Big Four” asset management companies — China Cinda Asset Management, China Huarong Asset Management, China Great Wall Asset Management and China Orient Asset Management — have become so bloated that their capacity is restricted.
The groups are “financial monsters”, said Chen Long, a partner at Beijing-based consultancy Plenum, “I would not count on them to play a big part” in addressing the property crisis.


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Ed 20 mths ago
US Mortgage demand falls to the lowest level in 22 years


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Ed 20 mths ago

Self Organizing ChaosXi’s zero-Covid policy sparks economic chaos in ChinaSzu Ping Chan

The virus situation remains a risk,” said analysts at Capital Economics. “New infections have been climbing again. Even if the current outbreak is contained, the zero-Covid strategy means that targeted lockdowns will remain commonplace, depressing consumer activity and spending.

“The slow progress in expanding vaccination among the elderly means the zero-Covid policy won’t be abandoned any time soon.”
In a bid to calm markets, China’s central bank trimmed interest rates for the second time this year, despite fears of rising inflation. The People’s Bank of China cut two key lending rates, though Craig Botham, chief China Economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics says the move will do little to support consumer spending, because there just isn’t any appetite to borrow.
“The People’s Bank of China cut interest rates [we] imagine because they felt like they had to be seen to do something, rather than because they think it will have much effect,” he says.“Availability of funds is not the problem, loan demand is. Equally, the price of credit is unlikely to be the deciding factor, particularly with interbank rates so low.”
An even bigger worry is the growing number of young people who cannot find a job. A world where policymakers keep switching economic activity on and off has caused uncertainty among businesses. Many can’t be sure how many staff they’ll need today, let alone in a year’s time.
Around 11m Chinese graduates entered a very uncertain jobs market this year, which has pushed up youth unemployment to 19.9pc – the highest level in years.
There is also China’s rapidly deteriorating property market, which threatens to exert a long-term drag on Chinese growth. House prices are falling, and attempts to engineer a soft landing have been challenging.
Official data on Monday showed property investment between January and July dropped 6.4pc compared with the same period in 2021, accelerating the 5.4pc decline marked in the first half of the year.
Lawrence Brainard, an economist at TS Lombard, says local governments have been using cash to prop up projects and “keep prices from falling precipitously”.
But he adds: “The option of defaulting has become increasingly attractive to developers, since so far there appear to be no consequences from walking away from troubled projects.”Uncertainty surrounding the market means nobody is building at the moment. And an increasing number of Chinese homebuyers are refusing to pay mortgages on properties they have bought because developers can no longer finish them.
The number of new construction projects is now lower than the trough reached in 2020, when the pandemic first hit activity.
Most analysts believe China has the financial firepower to avoid a widespread property crash. But Mr Brainard believes the alternative may be worse.….Raymond Yeung, chief China economist at ANZ Bank, says China must reverse its strict Covid rules if it is to avoid a self-inflicted downturn.
“Authorities’ zero-tolerance approach will continue to restrict social mobility and interrupt business activities,” he says.

This is beginning to have a suspicious odor to it all…maybe a flushing is the next step.


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Ed 20 mths ago
China’s largest property group warns of 70% plunge in profit
Country Garden’s plight highlights ‘humongous moral hazard’ for Beijing from cash-strapped developers
Earnings at Chinese property developer Country Garden fell as much as 70 per cent in the first half of the year, as the country’s largest real estate group by sales was drawn into a crisis that has raged through the heavily indebted sector.
Core profit could have dropped to between Rmb4.5bn and Rmb5bn ($6634mn-$736mn) in the first six months of 2022, down from Rmb15.2bn a year earlier, according to a filing on Thursday.
Country Garden, which lost its last investment-grade rating after Fitch downgraded it to junk status on Tuesday, cited a market downturn, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and foreign exchange losses for the fall in earnings. Unlike a growing number of its highly leveraged peers, Country Garden has not defaulted on its debts.
Alicia García Herrero, chief economist for Asia-Pacific at French investment bank Natixis, said Country Garden was suffering from worsening investor sentiment towards the sector. There are fears of falling prices as demand wanes and new apartments remain uncompleted, with cash-strapped developers running out of money.
“Now even Country Garden couldn’t basically proceed with presales for new projects because the contagion is so extreme,” she said.

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