Evergrande crisis causes global markets to drop a bit
China's second largest property developer (and world's most indebted one, with $300b in liabilities after years of borrowing for funding of rapid growth amid recent real estate frenzy). Seems the company is insolvent. But some analysits say it might be 'too big to fail' because a failure would undermine the CCP's stability.
Evergrande's been trying to sell properties for 25% off to deleverage. So much property on the market to sell off quickly is maybe not great for the Chinese property market. There are other companies in the same position as Evergrande as well.
CCP signaling there won't be a bailout, but as mentioned above this might not be possible because the company accounts for something like 2-3% of China's GDP. Because the majority of financial institutions involved are state-owned, China might use these to do a bailout without appearing to do so directly. However, the CCP seems to want to change the problem they have in their housing market: for years, people have bought homes as investments, and just left them empty, not even renting them out, to keep their quality for some future resell at at a profit, because values have gone up so much in recent years and were expected to continue. This means that the economy gets no real value from the production of these homes. So the CCP wants to move away from unproductive growth to real growth. You might see here why the CCP might be willing to let Evergrande fail so that the traditional moral hazard in the market is reduced. However, real growth alone wouldn't be enough to generate the economic activity for China to hit its GDP growth targets. The way China hits its targets is malinvestment by the real estate sector and local governments building unnecessary infrastructure. The government does more malinvestment when the economy slows down and reduces it at other times. It fills the gap.
(Malinvestment refers to ... from the 90s until mid-2000s, Chinese debt funded necessary and productive investment, which means the return on these investments grew faster than the debt did. The investments boosted the economy more than the cost of the debt. After the mid-2000s, debt began to rise faster than GDP, ie the cost of the debt was greater than the returns on investing it.)
People referring to the Lehman collapse (filed for bankruptcy Sept 2008), but China has the advantage of having seen America go through that and how the AIG bailout was unfair to the taxpayer.
Evergrande also is different in that it has wealth management unit, so depositors are earning interest, but now Evergrande is trying to offer them property (not good property, but things like parking spaces in ghost cities, since all the good stuff they had which could be sold has been sold or pledged against specific debts) if they want.
In China, some protests on the streets. Some are by employees who haven't been paid.
Investing experts have said that although this is just now a big global story moving markets, it's been known for a long time. Commodities were ahead, with iron ore halving since July, for example. China's share of commodities consumption globally is somewhere between 40 and 70% of global supply (20% of global supply just to Chinese real estate).
$310b in obligations globally owed by Evergrande. They have a crucial payment on their offshore bonds in a few days, and people think they might miss it. This debt is held in large amounts by Ashmore Group, BlackRock, UBS, and HSBC, among others, lots in bonds held in vehicles that focus on riskier EM or Asian credits.
A risk is that if all these property owners cut their prices, it will affect also mortgages, and could cause a chain reaction. Late payments of this size could trigger cross-defaults.
Evergrande also has a business model where it relies on customers paying for properties before construction (which this finances). Hundreds of thousands of Chinese have put down downpayments for things that possibly might not now be built.
Real estate is responsible for 30% of China's economic output.
Real estate investment is a large part of investment for Chinese people, due to the expectation values will continue to rise as dramatically as they have done in the past decades. It's been reported that houses costs about 45x average annual income, which is very high globally. Part of the interest in investing in property is due to lack of options in that country, where there tend to be significant levels of scams, and Chinese businesses haven't panned out as great places to invest either. There's also a social pressure to own a house in China. Chinese men reportedly can't get find a wife without having a house.
If Evergrande isn't bailed out and Chinese are caused by their government to rethink property values, it would change the values of loans on the books currently, since they were all (last 30 years of loans) based on assumptions about how the government support them rather than on the borrowers ability to pay back.
Most of Evergrande's debt is held in China which people think can absorb the loss, and the overseas debt is trading currently at about 30c on the dollar (US denominated debt at around 80c). Some think the CCP might cause Evergrande to pay back Chinese lenders first (there will just be more political will to pay the small wealth management investors in China than foreign lenders, regardless of seniority and capital structure), but that would cause an interesting situation where Chinese companies seeking outside investors going forward might not have as easy a time.
S&P was down like 1.5% the day the news hit.
Another issue is that while the Chinese have allowed the CCP to rule authoritarianly, they may be less likely to support the CCP if the country is no longer growing and making people all more wealthy. Combined with slowing population growth. Also, while Chinese exports continue to increase, this is due not to genuine productive potential, but rather to the price growth of commodities, it has been said.