Yesterday afternoon, Jim Chanos of Kynikos Associates suggested that “the numbers are falling faster than we thought,” at the 7th annual New York Value Investing Congress. He supported this speculation further by stating that, “Real estate sales in September and October, which are peak months, fell 40%-60% on-year,” and that Chinese financial and real-estate stocks are down 30% from their peak, with cement and steel prices plummeting as well. With nearly three decades of growth, this news seemed like a shock. Yet to most in the field, it really should not be: after all, China is witnessing a stage which may change it’s whole destiny.
The truth of the matter, like anything else, is that good news does not last forever. Comparing it to the disastrous Mao policies of the 70’s, the first two decades seemed inevitable. Beyond that, as an emerging market, China was able to witness growth unprecedented elsewhere in the world as they caught up to the developed world. Yet it would be silly to assume that the China of the 21st century was still “emerging”: in fact, they have already emerged.
If only the politicians in the country could realize this. China is a unique example where I may actually blame the politicians for business policy failures: with an import tax coming into effect in the U.S. over currency failures, a dispute which China seems to simply retort is false and will result in future consequences, it seems shocking that officials have not realized this sooner. It is no surprise to suggest that Chinese currency is far lower than it should be and honestly, its about time that China accepts its new role.
China has a lot to look forward to in the future. However, pretending that it is still a peer amongst nations like Indonesia or Pakistan is not one of those smart moves. Their currency is worth a whole lot more than it should be stated as and they cannot continue to imagine themselves as developing: in fact, they are close to developed amongst most of their peers. It feels schizophrenic to imagine that you can continue to evaluate your exports as an emerging nation yet take the reigns of international disputes like a member of the world powers.
In the end, in order to end these disputes, it is about time that China decides what side they are truly on. If the party is truly smart, they will embrace a higher value on their currency: after all, their surpluses are not exactly going to great use as they invest heavily into failing U.S. treasury notes. Until they do, investors would be smart to short-sell China. They seem stuck in time: you would think they would embrace an opportunity to move up in the world yet by all accounts, they seem to be taking this opportunity to waste.