by Daniel Lacalle
The bankruptcy of the Chinese real estate company Evergrande is much more than a “Chinese Lehman.” Lehman Brothers was much more diversified than Evergrande and better capitalized. In fact, the total assets of Evergrande that are on the brink of bankruptcy outnumber the entire subprime bubble of the United States.
[…] The problem with Evergrande is that it is not an anecdote, but a symptom of a model based on leveraged growth and seeking to inflate GDP at any cost with ghost cities, unused infrastructure, and wild construction. The indebtedness chain model of Evergrande is not uncommon in China. Many Chinese companies follow the “running to stand still” strategy of piling on ever-increasing debt to compensate for poor cash flow generation and weak margins. Many promoters get into massive debt to build a promotion that either is not sold or is left with many unsold units, then efinance that debt by adding more credit for new projects using unsaleable or already leveraged assets as collateral.