Hedge-fund billionaire George Soros has warned against investing in China which is witnessing a decline in the real estate boom, citing the example of Evergrande which is finding it difficult to pay its debts in the face of government policies designed to curb the boom.
China is facing an economic crisis after a real estate boom ended with a bang last year, according to investor Soros, reported CNN.
At a speech at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution on Monday, Soros said that President Xi Jinping may not be able to restore confidence in the troubled industry, which has been hit by a series of defaults by developers and falling prices for land and apartments.
Falling prices will “turn many of those who invested the bulk of their savings in real estate against Xi Jinping,” Soros said, adding that the current situation “doesn’t look promising.”
“Xi Jinping has many tools available to reestablish confidence — the question is whether he will use them properly,” said Soros.
China’s real estate boom was based on an “unsustainable” model that benefited local governments and encouraged people to invest the bulk of their savings in property, Soros said.
Government policies designed to curb the boom made it difficult for indebted real estate behemoth Evergrande to pay its debts, he added.
The developer is reeling under more than USD 300 billion of total liabilities, including about USD 19 billion in offshore bonds held by international asset managers and private banks on behalf of their clients, reported CNN.
Government officials have been sent in to the company to oversee a restructuring, but there’s little clarity about what comes next. Evergrande has appealed for more time, but some lenders appear unwilling to wait.
Moreover, Soros, the legendary investor and chair of the Open Society Foundations said in September that asset manager BlackRock was making a “tragic mistake” by doing more business in China.
He has criticized Beijing over its surveillance policies and a crackdown on private business.
Analysts have been concerned that Evergrande’s collapse could trigger wider risks for China’s property market, hurting homeowners and the broader financial system. Real estate and related industries account for as much as 30 per cent of the country’s GDP, reported CNN.
China’s economy expanded 8.1 per cent last year, but weakening growth in the closing months of 2021 suggests the real estate crisis, renewed COVID outbreaks and Beijing’s strict approach to controlling the virus are taking a toll.
The International Monetary Fund expects economic growth to slow dramatically to 4.8 per cent in 2022.
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