During the peak of the Japanese real estate bubble, the total value of land in Tokyo alone could "buy" the entire United States. Now, if Beijing sold all of its land, the sale would produce more than one year's worth of the American GDP. The total projected 2010 U.S. GDP was 95 trillion RMB, and the average land price in Beijing in 2010 was 8,000RMB per square meter. By this calculation, the total value of land in Bejing is 130 trillion RMB. That means that we would have more than enough to "buy America."
Although this is only an exaggeration, the visual it signals is shocking as it relates to the property bubble in China. According to relevant forecasts, by 2030 China's GDP will probably surpass the total U.S. GDP. In accordance with the current price level for real estate and if no economic restructuring occurs, then the GDP in China will surpass the U.S. earlier than expected. The growth will rely on real estate alone.
But so far, no economy can rely solely on real estate to make the economy flourish. Even if real estate has benefited some countries, those benefits are short term. In the long term, real estate causes more pain. For example, the real estate bubble bursting in Japan led to 10 years of economic stagnation. In 2010 in Ireland and Spain, following the debt crisis, there was the shadow of the real estate bubble. We have to be vigilant and guard against this.
Last year, there was a consensus in Chinese society that a real estate bubble exists. The Chinese Academy confirmed this in a report. In my opinion, "selling Beijing to buy the United States" is hyperbole and reflects the health of the entire market. Because of land sales, it is easy to develop land and expand local GDP. There are most certainly local bubbles and when the bubbles extend into second- or third-tier cities, the Chinese people have reason to be concerned about their economic prospects.
Fortunately, real estate tax and resource tax have been put on the agenda, and the effect of these taxes on inhibiting the housing bubble has been positive. However, we still do have the worst housing bubble in China's imagination. When the Japanese real estate bubble burst, it caused a financial crisis, manufacturing crisis, consumption crisis and social crisis. These are not just bitter memories for Japan; we must learn from them as well. The hyperbolic statement of "selling Beijing to buy America" should remind us.
Once the real estate bubble bursts, there is no winner. To suppress the real estate bubble is a major operation. Second, the macro control needed to curb housing prices should be upgraded to curb the real estate bubble and make local governments pay attention to regulation while warning about speculative real estate investment.