Most of us are at least passingly familiar with the theory: the completion of a new tallest skyscraper presages a market crash. Over-exuberant construction reflects over-exuberant markets, and over-confidence often spills over as the hyper-bullish slowly (and then quickly) realise that the good times are over.
Here’s the story so far:
And here’s the next chapter — earmarked for completion in January 2013:
Where else but China? As if that country didn’t already have enough empty buildings, enough empty office space, enough empty homes, and enough grey uninspired architecture. And it’s not like Changsha — the relatively-sparsely populated city where the thing is to be built — is running out of countryside to expand into.
Sky City One is planned to be prefabricated and built onsite, to a timeframe of just ninety days (that will instil confidence that the building won’t spontaneously collapse, right?) and at a much lower cost than the current titleholder (which of course presaged the 2008 crash, and bankrupted its builders) the Burj Khalifa.
“A milestone of life-style transforming” sounds about right (they have enough money to build a 200 storey building, but not enough to pay for good English translation?). The world will be a very different place after the next crash.
Not so good news for property speculators who are sure to dump money into what will soon be little better than a tax liability. But good news for Jim Chanos, and every other investor determined to short everything Chinese.
An excellent interview of The China Money Report‘s Dan Collins from Max Keiser, wherein Collins debunks much of the “China is a bubble” nonsense so popular in circles that should know better:
Some readers have had a hard time understanding my position on China and America.
In a nutshell: I am long production and short consumption. I am long creditors and short debtors.
Or, in more depth:
China has a property bubble, resulting from excess supply. It is also the world’s greatest industrial behemoth, controlling the world’s supply chains in many key components, and is becoming an increasingly powerful player in energy markets thanks to its buy-out of Venezuela and its close ties to authoritarian Eurasian energy powers like Russia, Iran and Pakistan. This means that it’s probably not the best place for Westerners to park capital in the short term. But it has no bearing on China’s strategic standing in the medium to long term.
A comparison with America is inevitable. The United States destroyed its industrial productive capacity, has a zombified financial system (including a huge derivatives ponzi that is yet to collapse), a stagnating labour market, stagnating infrastructure, a clueless establishment, and its currency is about to lose global reserve currency status.
Every day, America becomes more dependent on foreign oil and resources.
America needs the global resource and trade infrastructure. That’s why America is in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan. That’s why there are hundreds of bases around the world and why America spends trillions policing the world.
The counter-argument I often hear is “but America has nukes, America can order other countries to do things and they will do it”. But, ever since mutually-assured destruction that hasn’t been true.
If you don’t control your supply chains, you have a geostrategic problem. China grasped the importance of supply chains, and through cunning use of long-term planning has made itself the spider at the centre of the web of global trade. America grasped they could get a free lunch with US treasuries and that free lunch destroyed their productive capacity.