China is not in danger of US-style housing crunch: US expert
Updated: 2014-05-13 09:24
WASHINGTON - Housing market slowdown may weigh on China's growth but China's is not in danger of a US- style housing crunch if sales and demand continue to fall, a US expert said on Monday.
"Certainly there are signs of cooling down. Sales are down, investment is still going fairly strongly, but it will follow off if sales continue to be relatively weak," said Nicholas Lardy, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
However, he noted, the leverage associated with investment in China's housing market is fairly modest, and the household debt as a share of GDP, though has gone up quite a bit, is still relatively low.
"If prices soften for a while, you are not going to find a large number of borrowers under water immediately, and trying to liquidate their ownership of property," said Lardy, adding that the situation in China is going to play out quite differently from those in the advanced economies where housing market is also a concern.
Financial characteristics in the housing market are quite different in China from the west, so Chinese homeowners are not likely to sell off their property as many Americans did ahead of the financial crisis, he added.
Lardy said if housing investment slows, there are some opportunities for increased investment in social housing and certain kinds of infrastructure to beef up the growth.
He said the slowdown in the housing market may result in slower growth, but he was somewhat encouraged by Chinese leadership's repeated willingness to accept lower rate of economic growth in order to achieve more sustained and balanced growth.