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May 17, 2024, 8:41am EDT
businessEast Asia
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Semafor Signals

Beijing unveils sweeping action plan to tackle property crisis

Insights from The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Economist, Fortune

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FILE PHOTO: A view of unfinished residential buildings developed by China Evergrande Group in the outskirts of Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, China February 1, 2024. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo
File photo/Tingshu Wang/Reuters
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The News

China said it will step in as a buyer for unsold homes in its boldest bid yet to address the country’s property market crisis. Real-estate developers have been hit with extensive debts, and some consumers have walked away from purchasing homes.

Stock markets rallied following the news, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index up 1.6% at the end of trading Friday. Chinese property developers saw an average of a 3.1% surge in stock prices, CNN reported.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Program is expensive, and may not revive sector

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Sources:  
The Wall Street Journal, Reuters

Beijing is hoping to tackle the long-running property crisis head-on. But the cost of purchasing so many homes is huge, and it’s unclear how cash-strapped local governments will pay for them: Only the central government or the People’s Bank of China would have the capital to buy empty homes en masse, The Wall Street Journal reported. The announcement follows growing calls for the government to step in, Reuters noted, but analysts aren’t sure if the move will stimulate housing demand. “Clearing inventory will increase cashflow to developers and help their financial stability, but it does not address private sector confidence,” one financial analyst told the news agency.

Fall of another property firm could hurt the government

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Source:  
The Economist

Chinese real estate developers have struggled to keep up with the slumping market, and the two leading firms, Evergrande and Country Garden, collapsed in recent years under the pressure. On Saturday, property firm Vanke is expected to put 19,000 square meters of land up for sale in the city of Shenzhen, The Economist reported, and will list it at just 23% of its purchase price. Vanke’s issues are significant: The firm is state-backed, meaning it has greater access to capital than companies that are entirely private, the outlet noted. “If the company defaults, trust in all state-backed developers … would be under threat.” Meanwhile, analysts fear that if Vanke falls it will “break China’s back,” and could rock the public’s confidence in the government.

Sales downturn hurting younger workers

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Source:  
Fortune

The property sector’s downturn is hitting employees hard, Fortune reported. Around 500,000 workers have lost their jobs in the dip, many of them young professionals newly out of university. Some are now retraining, as youth unemployment remains high. Others are taking deep pay cuts to stay employed, with one former Vanke employee telling Fortune that he once took a 90% wage decrease, and spent a year searching for work after losing his job. “There’s no future in this industry,” the employee said. “The sector’s been abandoned.”

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