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【经济学人】 中国房价,是不是泡沫?

2017-08-15    来源:取经号JTW    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

中国的楼市究竟是不是泡沫?这个问题好比“薛定谔的猫”:只有等泡沫破了,才能知道是不是。土地供应失衡、高储蓄率等因素是高房价的有力支撑。尽管如此高的房价难言理性,但考虑到过去十年间所有对房价看空的人士都被打脸的事实,或许我们的楼市是真的有“中国特色”。这里的泡沫,与别国的不一样。

A severe imbalance in land supply fuels China’s wild property market
土地供应严重失衡,为疯狂的中国房地产市场火上浇油

ESTATE agents in China, as elsewhere in the world, are normally a smooth-talking, self-assured bunch. But Liu Zhendong, a salesman at a large development in the northern reaches of Shanghai, is afflicted by doubts. He had expected business to be solid and steady this year. Instead, it has been manic, with clients jostling to see show apartments. Some had hoped to wait for the market to cool, but capitulated and bought as prices climbed higher week after week. Flats in the area, the once-rural village of Malu, still dotted with fields and scruffy wholesale food markets, now cost 90% more than a year ago. “It feels a bit like a bubble,” he says.
通常来说,中国的房产中介和世界各国同行一样,都能言善道、自信满满。但上海北部某大型住宅区的销售员刘振东(音)如今却充满了疑惑。他原本期望今年的生意能平稳发展。但实际上市场已经疯狂,客户们为了看样板房挤破了脑袋。一些等待市场降温的人,在经历了每周房价都在疯涨的现实后也不得不加入抢购大军。曾经只是一片村庄的上海马陆镇,如今仍然散布着农田和破旧的食品批发市场,但该区的公寓价格已经同比增长了90%。刘振东说:“感觉有点像泡沫了。”

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Mr Liu is in good company. Even the head of the central bank’s research bureau, usually cautious in his choice of language, has said a property bubble must be stopped before it gets too big. House prices have climbed by 16% nationwide over the past year, and double or even triple that in big cities. So in the past two weeks more than 20 municipalities have tried to calm the market down—for example, by requiring higher down-payments or limiting purchases by residents of other cities.
不止是刘振东一个人这么想。即便是通常措辞很谨慎的央行研究局局长,也表示楼市泡沫一定要在膨胀过大之前控制住。去年全国房价增长了16%,大城市的房价甚至翻了2、3倍。所以在过去的两周中,有超过20个省市出台了提高首付或限购等政策,试图为楼市降温。

As the past decade has shown, the ups and down of China’s housing market are of global significance. Totting up the property sector’s impact on investment and consumption (all the furniture and gizmos that fill new homes), it accounts for about a quarter of Chinese GDP. So this year’s rebound has prompted both hope and dread. It has helped GDP growth stabilise at about 6.7%, faster than most analysts forecast in January (third-quarter data will be released on October 19th). Stronger demand for iron ore and copper has given beleaguered miners a measure of relief.
过去十年的经验显示,中国房地产市场的繁华起落对于全球市场也至关重要。加上其对于投资和消费的影响(所有装修新房用的家具和小物品),房地产贡献了中国四分之一的GDP。因此,今年(注:本文发表于2016年10月)楼市的反弹也是喜忧参半。它令GDP增长率稳定在6.7%,超过大多分析家在一月时做出的预测(第三季度的数据将会在10月19号公布)。对于铁矿石和黄铜的强劲需求也让困境中挣扎的采矿业松了口气。

Optimism, however, has been tempered by concerns about the nature of the revival. Surveys indicate that about one-fifth of buyers are investors rather than owner-occupiers. CEBM, a research firm, estimates that this share rises to up to 60% in core districts of mid-sized cities. Even more worrying has been the increase in property developers’ borrowing. Zhang Zhiwei of Deutsche Bank says they face a prisoner’s dilemma: if too conservative, they will get squeezed out of the market; so they choose to be aggressive. They have driven up land prices by 66% this year, according to an index of 100 leading cities. Mr Zhang examined 252 of these land auctions and concluded that two-fifths of winning bidders will lose money if house prices level out, let alone decline.
然而,乐观情绪被下调的担忧所笼罩。调查显示,约五分之一的购房者是投资客而非自住刚需。市调公司CEBM估计,中等城市核心区中的投资客比例甚至可高达60%。更令人担忧的是开发商的借贷问题。德意志银行的张志伟(音译)认为他们面临着囚徒困境:过于保守会被市场淘汰;所以他们不得不选择激进。全国TOP100城市房价指数显示,开发商令今年的土地价格增长了66%。张志伟估算了其中的252次土拍并得出结论:哪怕是房价横盘,五分之二的中标者都会亏损,更不用说房价下跌了。

The sharp rise in house prices also seems out of kilter with the broader economic picture. Income growth is slowing as the economy matures, making homes steadily less affordable. That helps explain the frenzy in the market. During a holiday week at the start of October, huge crowds swamped sales centres when new properties were put on the market. In Shanghai, divorces have spiked as people take advantage of a loophole in regulations. Couples can get a preferential mortgage rate only on their first home. Divorced spouses can benefit by buying homes separately and then remarrying.
从宏观经济来看疯涨的房价也难以为继。随着经济体的逐渐成熟,居民收入增长趋缓并越来越难负担房贷。这也解释了市场的狂热。十一黄金周期间,只要有新楼盘上市,就会有大量购房者涌入售楼处购房。人们为了钻政策的漏洞购房而导致上海的离婚率飙升。夫妻只有购买第一套房产时才能获得优惠贷款利率。所以人们可以先离婚分别购房,之后再复婚。

Such behaviour smacks of irrational exuberance, but caution is in order before delivering that verdict. Investors, analysts and the press have been predicting Chinese real-estate Armageddon for the better part of a decade. But there has been no nationwide crash. Prices have weakened for a time, typically when the government clamps down on buying, only to take off again every few years.
这种行为有点非理性繁荣的味道,但是盖棺定论仍需谨慎。近十年来,投资者,分析师和媒体们一直预言中国房地产行业末日即将到来。但事实上迄今为止从未有过断崖式的下跌。房价虽曾一度走弱,但这通常是由于政府限购造成的,没几年房价又会重新上涨。

For all the signs of excess, officials have in fact done well to guard against the biggest potential vulnerability: over-borrowing by homebuyers. Despite a recent surge in mortgage lending, household balance-sheets are on the whole in good shape. Moreover, strict down-payment rules mean that buyers typically put up cash for as much as half the price of the home. Even if prices fall, they are unlikely to walk away from their mortgage debt. This helps insure against the downward spiral of foreclosures and falling prices that has wreaked havoc in other countries.
尽管整个行业存在严重过剩的信号,政府方面实际上已经做好了面对最大潜在威胁的准备:购房者的过度借贷。虽然最近住房按揭的总额激增,但是整体家庭资产负债表的状况良好。除此之外,现行严格的首付要求意味着购房者大多数时候都用现金来支付超过半额的房屋总价。这样一来,即便房价下跌,购房者也不太可能选择断供。这有助于避免弃房断供与房价下跌两者间形成恶性循环,其他很多国家正是由于这种恶性循环而遭受了巨大损失。

This is not to deny that the Chinese property market faces serious problems. But “bubble” may be a misdiagnosis. The real pathology is a severe imbalance in land supply, argues Larry Hu of Macquarie Securities. Smaller cities have plenty of land for building but shrinking populations. Big cities, where people actually want to live and work, are sitting on large land banks but releasing only small plots. Shanghai has about 1,800 sq km of farmland but sold only five sq km for home-building last year. The result, predictably, has been soaring home prices.
不可否认,中国楼市正面临严峻的问题。麦格理证券公司的胡伟俊认为,“楼市泡沫”可能言过其实,真正的问题在于土地供应的严重失衡。小城市有大量建筑用地,但人口逐渐减少。至于人们向往工作和生活的大城市,虽然有大量的土地储备,但是建筑用地少。上海有大概1800平方公里的农业用地,但是去年只卖出5平方公里的土地用于住宅建筑。 最后导致房价疯涨。

Why not sell much more land in big cities? Doing so would fundamentally alter the rules of the game, causing pain for lots of important players, Mr Hu argues. Governments in big cities count on incremental land sales as a source of revenue; governments in small cities hope the restrictions will eventually send people their way. This is, in other words, a political problem as much as an economic one.
大城市为什么不卖出更多土地? 胡伟俊认为如果这样做很可能会破坏现有的游戏规则,让那些关键玩家受伤。大城市的政府希望通过卖地来实现创收,而小城市的政府则希望大城市的限购措施能让那些人回到自己该回的地方。换句话说这是一个经济问题,也是一个政治问题。

Mr Liu, the agent at the Malu development, knows both sides of the property market. A few years ago he bought a flat in his home town of Jiuhuashan, a five-hour drive to the south-west. It now gathers dust, empty except for a week during the Chinese New Year holiday, when he returns home. Still young, he has no intention of moving back to Jiuhuashan permanently. The mountains there are stunning but the economy sleepy. Rather, Mr Liu hopes to buy a home in Shanghai eventually and has started saving up for it. The booming prices of the past year have kept him busy at work, but pushed his dream ever further into the distance.
刘振东(马陆镇的那位房产中介)对楼市的两面性知之甚深。几年之前他在家乡九华山买了一套公寓,在上海西南方向,约5个小时车程。除了每年春节的那七天,房子总是空空荡荡的,布满灰尘。刘先生现在还年轻,暂时没有彻底搬回九华山的想法。那里的群山景色绝美,但是经济疲软。相比之下,他更希望最终能在上海买一套房子,并且已经开始为之存钱。去年房价爆炸式的增长使他的工作异常繁忙,但是也让他离自己的梦想越来越远。


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