Saturday, August 17, 2013

Λουκέτα, ανεργία, κατασχέσεις σπιτιών και πόλεις-φαντάσματα...στην Κίνα


Έχουμε γράψει εδώ και χρόνια ότι και η Κίνα θα περάσει μια μεγάλη κρίση. Έχουμε βέβαια επίσης γράψει ότι η κρίση αυτή μπορεί να ξεπεραστεί από την Κίνα, και να βγει από αυτή ισχυρότερη, αρκεί βέβαια να μπορέσει να ελέγξει τις λαϊκές αντιδράσεις-κινητοποιήσεις (κάτι που άλλον θα το καταφέρει, διότι οι εργάτες είναι ακόμα ανοργάνωτοι, πολιτικά και ιδεολογικά).

Ο λόγος για τον οποίο η Κίνα θα μπορέσει να ξεπεράσει την κρίση, είναι διότι έχει ήδη μαζέψει πολλά αποθεματικά "για μια ώρα ανάγκης", και -κυρίως- εξακολουθεί να προσελκύει κεφάλαια και επενδύσεις.

Η Κίνα έχει κάνει πολλά "ανοίγματα" στην αγορά, και κάποια από αυτά τα ανοίγματα δε θα της βγουν, οπότε η κρίση είναι αναπόφευκτη. Δεν είναι όμως σημάδι παρακμής, όπως στη Δύση, αλλά σημάδια ότι η Κίνα αναπτύσσεται, και "μεταμορφώνεται".

Για παράδειγμα δείτε ένα άρθρο του M. Pettis, γνωστού πανεπιστημιακού και αρθρογράφου των Financial Times, που αναλύει το πρόβλημα της "αστικοποίησης" για την Κίνα, που επειδή ακριβώς βρίσκεται ακόμα στην ανάπτυξη, έχει πολλούς ανθρώπους που κάνουν αγροτικές δουλειές, και θέλουν να πάνε στην πόλη για να δουλέψουν στη βιομηχανία, που είναι πιο επικερδής. Βέβαια, η κρίση θα το αλλάξει αυτό προσωρινά, και πολλές βιομηχανίες θα κλείσουν, αλλά μακροπρόθεσμα αυτή είναι η τάση.

Επίσης, η Κίνα θέλει να δημιουργήσει μια "μεσαία τάξη" στο εσωτερικό της, ώστε αυτή να καλύψει το κενό που αφήνει η χρεωκοπία του "Δυτικού καταναλωτή". Από τη στιγμή που η Δύση φτώχυνε, και δε μπορεί πλέον να εισάγει τα made in China προϊόντα όπως παλιά, θα πρέπει αυτά τα προϊόντα να πουληθούν στους Κινέζους, αλλιώς θα μείνουν εντελώς απούλητα. Η οικονομικοπολιτική δομή της χώρας λοιπόν πρέπει να αλλάξει, και αυτό θα δημιουργήσει μια κρίση στο εσωτερικό της.

Τρίτον, η πρόοδος της τεχνολογίας θα δημιουργήσει μεγάλα προβλήματα ανεργίας στην Κίνα, διότι η συγκεκριμένη χώρα θα επηρεαστεί περισσότερο από όλους, μιας και εκεί βρίσκονται τα περισσότερα εργοστάσια-χειρωνάκτες εργάτες: Όσο οι μηχανές εξελίσσονται, τόσο θα αντικαθιστούν αυτούς τους εργάτες, και άρα οι εργάτες αυτές σε λίγα χρόνια θα μένουν άνεργοι. Η Κίνα βέβαια έχει πλέον και πανεπιστήμια, και βγάζει μηχανικούς, επιστήμονες, κτλ, όχι μόνο βιομηχανικούς εργάτες, αλλά και πάλι η "τεχνολογική" κρίση θα την επηρεάσει πολύ.

Τέλος πάντων, έχουμε γράψει και παλιότερα για την Κίνα, και θα ξαναγράψουμε και στο μέλλον, όταν θα έχουμε και περισσότερο χρόνο (άγνωστο το πότε θα γίνει αυτό το τελευταίο βέβαια). Προς το παρόν, δείτε ένα σημαντικό άρθρο για την κρίση στην Κίνα, που νομίζω θα σας θυμίσει κάτι από Ελλάδα-Δύση:

Credit crisis begins to cripple Chinese cities
As the Chinese economy boomed, few cities soared faster or higher than Shenmu, a community of nearly 500,000 in northwestern China.

Top luxury clothing stores in this city's downtown were recording as much as $500,000 a day in sales. Tables at the best restaurants had to be reserved weeks in advance. The new Fortune Garden Club for the city's business elite made headlines by paying $1 million for a king-size mahogany bed, to be used by members and their companions.

But a painful credit crisis is now spreading across Shenmu and cities nearby, as thousands of businesses have closed, fleets of BMWs and Audis have been repossessed and street protests have erupted.

Now the leading purveyors of Western fashions are deserted, monthly sales at restaurants are down as much as 97% and the marble entrance to the Fortune Garden Club is shuttered. All but one of the city's car dealerships have failed. The owner of the city's largest jewelry store was detained by the authorities a week ago after creditors found him secretly packing millions of dollars' worth of gold and jewels into cases and accused him of preparing to flee the city without settling his debts. A top restaurant closed a day earlier, and its owner left town, as have the founder of the Fortune Garden.

"It's an economic crisis just like the United States has had; just like it," said Wang Ting, an operator of an illegal casino in Fugu, near Shenmu. "There's no cash, everyone stays home without a job, there's no way the economy can recover." Shenmu, and nearby cities like Ordos and Fugu, are at the leading edge of broader troubles that are beginning to afflict the entire Chinese economy.

Across China, growth has slowed. With the slowdown have come rising defaults on loans made outside the conventional banking system, chronic overcapacity in many industries like coal mining and steel production and, in particularly troubled cities like Shenmu, a sharp decline in previously debt-fueled prices for real estate and other assets.

The cracks are showing in many sizable cities like coastal Wenzhou, where informal lending, a big part of so-called shadow banking, has dominated for a quarter-century.

Cities with economies linked to commodities with falling prices have also been affected, as more people have defaulted on loans. The biggest, most economically diverse metropolitan areas like Beijing and Shanghai seem considerably less affected, but also have many small and medium-size businesses that depend on informal lending.

"Almost no one will give you a loan," said a construction executive who gave only his surname, Xie, as he stood next to his white Toyota Land Cruiser outside a project that had been halted. 

Although changes are being slowly introduced, state-owned banks have long been allowed to lend only at low, regulated rates barely above the inflation rate, with the total value of loans controlled by quarterly quotas. All over China, these loans go overwhelmingly to large state-owned businesses, government officials and politically connected individuals, who then relend the money at much higher interest rates to small and medium-size businesses in the private sector that need money to grow.

Liu Linfei, a government official from nearby Yulin, stood on a Shenmu street corner in a T-shirt and shorts on a recent weekend afternoon, outside two highrise hotels where construction had been stopped just before the windows could be installed. He said he had borrowed 600,000 renminbi, almost $100,000, from a bank shortly before the collapse, at an interest rate of 4.1% a year.

Liu then lent the cash to moneylenders here at an interest rate of 10.4 percent, planning to pocket the difference. The moneylenders who borrowed from Liu defaulted, and now he is struggling to repay the bank. "I'm not going to lose my house, because I'm repaying it little by little with money I borrow from my relatives," he said.

If You Build It, They Won't Come... And In China They Are Now Leaving
In theory, urbanization stimulates growth because city dwellers typically earn more than their rural counterparts, allowing them to spend more on consumer goods and services. For the government to realize that payoff, though, it must create jobs that will draw people into the cities. Tieling underscores the difficulty.

Among the few business owners lured to a development park in Tieling New City is Bo Yuquan, the middle-aged owner of a flooring store.

"Where are the people? There's no one here," said Mr. Bo. "I'll be out of business soon. My staff and I are discussing moving to Beijing to find work."
Presenting Tieling New City: When this small city in northeastern China launched a plan to build a satellite city six miles down the road, it got off to a promising start.

Urban planners spent millions of yuan to clean up surrounding marshland that had become a dumping ground for the city's untreated sewage. A pristine environment, they hoped, would help attract the businesses that would raise incomes and swell the population.

Four years later, Tieling New City is virtually a ghost town.

Clean waterways weave among deserted residential and government buildings. Housing blocks that won recognition from the United Nations for providing good affordable homes are almost empty. The businesses that were supposed to create local employment haven't materialized. Without jobs, there is little incentive for anybody to move here.

Against all this, Tieling is choosing to keep building (χαχαχα, η μουσική πρέπει να συνεχίσει να παίζει μέχρι την τελευταία στιγμή της "βύθισης του Τιτανικού" απ' ότι φαίνεται...). The municipal government has rolled out plans to spend a further $1.3 billion on projects in the new city this year, including an art gallery, gymnasium and indoor swimming pool.

That is despite municipal finances coming under increasing stress.