Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Jim Chanos: China Debt Worse than Europe Debt

James Chanos is interviewed by Bloomberg on the 20th of September at Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting.
During the first 3 minutes (up to 3:30), he talks about the European debt crisis and the shorting ban on European bank stocks. He says that regulators do not understand how markets work, as major short sellers are other financial institutions that edge their bets. If they can not meet those edging needs, they also run into troubles.

His view is that the austerity measures in Europe will lead to less growth, and that government spending in Europe is a larger part of GDP than in the USA (25% for the US vs. 35 to 50% for European countries).

Then they discuss about China in the middle of the interview (3:30 to about 9:40).
Chinese growth is beginning to sputter and property stocks and real estate developers are leading the declining. Sales of real estate are down 50% in major Chinese cities this year.

The Chinese government balance looks good on paper. But if we look at state enterprise (that are implicitly backed by the government), the debt to GDP ratio went from 100% to 200% that is the same or even worse than European countries, especially the PIIGS.

Jim Chanos explains that most people will be surprised (on the downside) by the Chinese growth by the end of this year and/or beginning of next year. He even quoted the CEO of Japanese company who said he had trouble getting paid for his escalators.

Even if the Chinese government tries to reign in the increase in debt, many real estate developers turn to the black market, and that experts expect 50% of new loans to go bad, that kind of issue could wipe out the Chinese GDP growth this year. A Chinese slowdown of that scale would negatively affect the global economy (remove 1% of global GDP growth).

In order to play the Chinese crash, Jim Chanos is short Chinese banks, Rel Estate developers, commodities and any company that sells to China. He is however long Macau casinos.

At the end of the interview, he gives his views on the US. He agrees with the Buffett rule as taxes are now a small part of the GDP and says he is still short healthcare stocks (as the US government needs to reign in Medicare costs) and Netflix (as the DVD business is dying).

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