A Scary Thought

On China's stimulus-induced economy, in this morning's Wall Street Journal.

The recovery in China's housing market has underpinned the nation's return to double-digit economic growth, and will become increasingly crucial this year as Beijing winds down its two-year stimulus program. The growing fear of many officials and analysts is that a property bubble that leads to a bust could derail that expansion. How China handles this real-estate boom will have broad ramifications, since its strong demand for the raw materials and equipment needed to build out new housing, infrastructure and factories has been one of the few bright spots in the world economy.

"China's entire growth and investment boom is centered on sentiment in the property market," said Doris Chen, banking analyst with BNP Paribas in Shanghai. [emphasis added] High property prices support local government budgets, she said, and so indirectly finance many of the infrastructure projects that have been rolled out as part of the stimulus.

This usually does not end well.

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