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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Local Governments Will Lead On Property

    Even as China’s property market has experienced an unprecedented decline, central government policymakers have kept a tight leash on official support. However, given growing signs of a lasting disruption to the sector, Rosealea believes that Beijing will tolerate more ambitious municipal efforts to keep local markets afloat.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Worst Is Yet To Come For Steel

    Steelmakers have continued production despite a precipitous drop in demand, resulting in a short-term inventory glut. As Rosealea explains, this will lead to continued downward pressure on steel prices, at least until the construction sector recovers from the coronavirus crisis and drives demand back up to meet supply.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Lingering Impact On Property

    While the 2003 SARS outbreak had only a transitory impact on China’s housing market, the 2020 coronavirus episode is proving to be much more serious. In this piece, Rosealea argues that the big hit to housing sales will leave developers short of cash and limit their ability to keep projects going. This points to a lingering drag on construction.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Mortgage Rate Reset

    China’s central bank is moving forward with its interest-rate reforms, ordering mortgages to be reset based on the new loan prime rate. Rosealea explains that this shift will make monetary policy more transparent and effective by re-linking mortgage rates to official policy rates, but it does not herald a cycle of major cuts in mortgage rates.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Back Door Is Still Closed

    A slew of new government policies has boosted market expectations for China’s infrastructure spending in 2020. But Rosealea counsels caution: while new measures have opened the “front door” of approved funding a bit wider, more important is that the “back door” of shadow financing remains firmly closed. A big rebound in public works is unlikely.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Crackdown On Developer Financing

    China’s financial regulators are squeezing funding for property developers in order to discourage land speculation and cool down property prices. In this piece, Rosealea argues the crackdown has been fairly successful, and does not pose a big risk to construction. Slightly easier demand-side policies will help offset tough supply-side restrictions.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Housing & Construction Review 2019

    China’s property market has held up surprisingly well in 2019, but will that strength last? In her annual chartbook, Rosealea examines key market trends and explains the outlook for 2020. Flexible policy can probably continue to avoid a deep decline in housing sales, but construction activity and materials demand are almost certain to slow.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    This Old House

    China’s government has launched a new program to renovate older residential compounds, which some are touting as a massive new investment stimulus. As Rosealea explains in this piece, such hopes are misplaced. But the new spending will help cushion the impact of the cutbacks of the subsidies delivered through the slum redevelopment program.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Risks To Steel Prices

    China’s government is once again going after pollution from the steel industry, raising the risk of more policy-induced spikes in steel prices. While forced shutdowns to ensure blue skies are on the way, Rosealea argues that the bigger risk to steel prices is on the downside, due to weakening construction activity and cautious housing policy.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Housing Policy Turns Cautious

    Housing policy in China has taken a cautious turn, with policymakers more concerned about potential overheating in prices than worried about a downturn in sales and construction. In this piece, Rosealea explains how this shift is playing out through cuts in housing subsidies and changes to local policies, and evaluates the risks to the market.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Property Cycle Perks Up

    China’s property market data has been surprising on the upside. Thanks to easier credit and looser administrative restrictions, sales volumes picked up in March and prices rose. In this paper, Rosealea examines whether the upturn can last, and assesses what it means for land sales, construction activity, materials prices and the broader economy.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Video: Chinese Property Is Slowing, Not Collapsing

    Home sales in China fell by 3.6% in the first two months of 2019. This, however, was better than expected considering that this upcycle is now four years old. Lower mortgage rates and supportive policies by local governments should prop up demand, and Rosealea expects overall housing sales to decline a modest 2% for the year.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Springtime For Steel

    It’s looking like a good spring for China’s steel industry. In this piece, Rosealea reports on her findings from a recent visit to the steelmaking capital of Tangshan. Steel and iron ore prices are being supported by a combination of stable demand from property, recovering demand from infrastructure and supply constraints from scrap shortages.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Sunset Of Housing Subsidies

    China’s local governments are cutting back their slum redevelopment plans, which points to lower government subsidies for housing in 2019. As a result, Rosealea argues, housing sales are likely to have a deeper decline this year, although Beijing will manage the phase-out of subsidies with a careful eye on how it affects the market.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Long Plateau In Housing Demand

    While many forecasters had expected China’s steel demand to enter long-term decline as housing construction peaks, in fact it has stayed surprisingly strong. In this piece, Rosealea revisits her housing model, and finds it is consistent with recent trends. Construction should peak in 2020-22, so steel demand can stay elevated for a few more years.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    It's Not All Bad News In Property

    China’s property market keeps delivering bad news: declines in housing sales, land sales and prices have deepened in recent months. But Rosealea sees some positive signs in easing local government policies, lower bank funding costs, and strong momentum in construction. In this piece, she explains why she is not joining the property-market bears.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Steel Prices Have Overshot

    Chinese steel prices suffered their biggest decline in two years in November, falling about 20% over the course of the month. That correction was driven by a combination of a big increase in supply along with worries about future demand. In this piece, Rosealea argues that both problems will be short-lived, and that steel prices can rebound.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Housing & Construction Review 2018

    China’s property market has had a record-breaking run, but where is it headed next? In this concise chartbook, Rosealea delivers her annual overview of the key drivers of housing sales and construction activity and explains the outlook for 2019. An overdue correction in sales is coming, but construction should hold up relatively well.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Many Misjudgments Of Supply-Side Reform

    Supply-side reform, Xi Jinping’s signature policy of cutting excess capacity in steel, coal and other industries, is widely considered a success. Yet Rosealea’s extensive review finds that this campaign was marred by repeated misjudgments that caused undesired spikes in prices. The justifications for continuing the policy are now wearing thin.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Policy Constraint From Property

    The hot property market is one of the major constraints on Chinese policymakers’ freedom to stimulate: surging prices and construction do not need more juice. In this piece, Rosealea explains why more decisive stimulus is very unlikely before the property market weakens significantly, and even then will not be as large as in previous cycles.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Backlash Against The War On Air Pollution

    Steel prices are high thanks to a tough government plan to reduce smog by shutting down metals production—but the rise in prices has recently started to reverse as uncertainty over these policies increases. Rosealea reports on the steel industry’s new pushback against strict output curbs, and why these controls are likely to become more flexible.

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Property Slowdown That Wasn't

    While China’s government is talking tough about containing its frothy property market, the market does not appear to be listening. Housing sales are still growing, price rises are accelerating and construction activity is robust. In this piece, Rosealea explains why property has outperformed, and updates her outlook for the rest of 2018.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Housing Inventories Hit Bottom

    The long decline in China’s housing inventories—the key factor driving the recovery in construction—now seems to have ended. After falling in 2015, 2016 and 2017, housing inventories are now on pace to end 2018 slightly higher. In this piece, Rosealea explains why this change will not spell the end of the construction cycle just yet.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Biggest Winners In Real Estate

    China’s real-estate developers are getting hammered in stock and credit markets. But the largest of these firms are well-placed to ride out current strains, and are the main beneficiaries of accelerating consolidation and government policy. As the Chinese property market matures, the winners are likely to be a small group of the largest companies.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Rethinking Of Housing Subsidies

    China's government, worried about continued rapid growth in housing prices, is now reconsidering a major program for subsidizing housing sales. As Rosealea explains, this policy change shows the government is still more focused on curbing frothy housing prices than on boosting growth, and will weigh on housing sales in the rest of 2018.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Property Tightening Is Back

    Chinese government policy for the property market is turning tighter, a shift that will weigh on housing sales and construction activity in the rest of 2018. But Rosealea cautions against overreacting, arguing that the downcycle in property is still likely to be a shallow one, and that policy will loosen again once market conditions weaken.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong Seminar — April 2018

    At Gavekal’s seminar in Hong Kong this week, Arthur Kroeber, Rosealea Yao and Nick Andrews presented their latest views on the brewing trade war between the US and China, Chinese growth and the property market outlook, and how to capture European growth.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How Steel Survived The Battle For Blue Skies

    It’s been a wild winter for China’s steel industry, with huge swings in output and prices. The main culprit is the aggressive official campaign to reduce air pollution—and the industry’s creative responses to it. Their back-and-forth has not hurt underlying growth much, but the resulting volatility in steel prices is not going away.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Pain Of Power Producers

    The rebound in commodity prices since 2016 has been a boon for much of China’s industrial sector—but coal-burning power plants have been big losers. Coal prices cannot go much higher without causing serious financial distress. This means that policy should now be shifting to favor power producers, by ensuring coal prices do not climb further.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Cold Weather, Hot Data

    China’s first data release of 2018 delivered a couple of surprises, with a big jump in industrial value-added and a pickup in real-estate investment. But neither amounts to a convincing signal that the economy is actually re-accelerating. The most likely outcome is still a moderate growth slowdown driven by a shallow downcycle in property.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Property Tax Is Back

    A property tax is back on the Chinese government’s agenda: after being postponed in 2017, the long-discussed tax was brought up again at this week’s legislative session. The draft law could come in 2018, with actual taxes being levied by late 2019 at the earliest. But Rosealea expects this to be largely a non-event for the property market.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Is Construction Preparing An Upside Surprise?

    Since markets reopened after the Chinese New Year holiday, the prices of commodities tied to China’s construction cycle have been picking up. This optimism could be justified: construction fundamentals are solid and policy interventions are mostly positive. In this piece, Rosealea explains the upside risks for construction activity in early 2018.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Local Infrastructure Feels The Chill

    China’s financial crackdown is now extending to the funding tricks that local governments use to pay for infrastructure projects, which have long been tolerated in the name of economic growth. This report explains why this crackdown will put more of a chill on infrastructure spending—but also why public-works investment is unlikely to collapse.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Fewer Surprises From Supply-Side Reform

    China’s “supply-side reform” in coal, steel, and other products been a major swing factor for markets over the past two years. And Chinese officials started off 2018 by doubling down on their rhetoric about supply-side reform. But as Rosealea explains, there are good reasons to think the upside risk to commodities prices will be low this year.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    After The Bounce In Coal Demand

    After three straight years of decline, China’s consumption of coal rose 1% in 2017, and prices are rallying. But in this piece, Rosealea argues that this bounce in demand is unlikely to persist. With the property market cooling and official efforts to switch away from coal continuing, coal use should resume its decline in 2018.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Rental Housing Solution

    China’s government has a new priority for the housing market: boost the quantity and quality of rental housing. As more middle-class Chinese are priced out of top-tier cities, promoting rentals is a new attempt to address housing affordability. In this piece, Rosealea explains the latest policy push and how it will affect property developers.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Mixed Report From Steel Country

    This winter's anti-pollution campaign in north China is for real, but will have a mixed impact on the steel industry. The campaign also involves a suspension of many construction projects, which will reduce demand. Rosealea's recent field trip to the steel hub of Tangshan suggests both the supply and demand cuts are beginning to bite.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Housing & Construction Review 2017

    In her annual overview, Rosealea summarizes the outlook for the housing market and construction activity in China. This concise chartbook reviews the drivers of growth in 2017, digs into the key indicators and explains the core scenario for 2018: a modest correction in housing sales and prices, and a gradual slowdown in construction activity.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Restrained Boom In Land Sales

    Even as China’s housing market has cooled, the market for land has been heating up. Land sales to developers are up 10% so far in 2017, after declining for the past three years, and prices are up 50-100%. In this piece, Rosealea argues that such signs of froth are deceptive: land sales are still historically low and developers quite conservative.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Capacity Cuts Won't Hold Up Metals Prices

    To reduce air pollution, China says it will run northern steel mills at just half their capacity this coming winter. Prices of steel and other metals initially rallied on the news, but now are coming off. In this piece, Rosealea argues that metals prices have seen the top of their range, and explains why capacity cuts won’t push prices higher.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Housing Prices Set To Slowly Cool

    Housing prices have had a wild ride in China this year, but with sales now cooling, prices are also losing steam. In this piece, Rosealea argues that the coming correction in housing prices will be a moderate one—probably about half of the 10% nationwide decline in 2014—as inventories are still low and policies are not particularly tight.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Oil Import Deregulation Put On Hold

    China’s market for gasoline, diesel and other oil products has gotten increasingly competitive since the government started allowing private-sector refiners to import their own crude oil. But the government has now put additional liberalization on hold, which will halt gains for independent refiners and benefit big state enterprises.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Fade The Latest Commodity Rally

    China’s property market is once again running hotter than expected, pushing prices of iron, steel and coal up by 15%-40% over recent weeks. But the gradual downward trend in property has not changed. And with high prices and government intervention both stimulating more commodity supply, the potential for further price gains is limited.

    3
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Government Becomes A Home Buyer

    It’s no secret that managing the housing market is a core part of China’s economic policy. But as Rosealea explains in this piece, government’s role in supporting housing sales is now even greater than most realize. The government is buying millions of unsold housing units directly from developers, and the scale of the program is only increasing.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Central Pillar For Housing Sales

    China’s housing market is proving quite resilient this year, with sales growth perking up in May. In this piece, Rosealea argues the current sales recovery is broad-based: growth is strong in both central and coastal provinces. While restrictions on speculative purchases are spreading to some smaller cities, this should have only a moderate impact.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Iron Ore Slump Nears Its End

    China’s iron ore price is now down by about a third from its peak in February. In this piece, Rosealea reassesses the market in light of this correction, and argues that the price is unlikely to stay substantially below US$60 per ton for long. That’s because domestic miners responding to low prices by cutting output, helping rebalance the market.

    1
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Return Of Regulated Coal Prices

    Coal was the most volatile commodity price in China last year, but it has been remarkably stable in 2017. In this piece, Rosealea explains how the government has revived a contract system of regulating coal prices, in the place of campaigns to cut or raise coal output. Coal prices are thus likely to stay at their relatively high levels for longer.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How Long Can The Construction Rebound Last?

    Chinese growth prospects look quite good in 2017, thanks to the recovery in construction, but how long can it last? In this piece, Rosealea unpacks the inventory dynamics behind the rebound. Given the strong start to 2017, it now looks like low inventories can support growth in construction not just in 2017, but also well into 2018.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Shaky Foundation For Iron Ore

    Iron ore prices are still high, but for how much longer? Returning from a field trip, Rosealea is now more convinced prices will fall. A government campaign to close low-end steel producers is aggravating cyclical swings rather than changing the structure of the industry. As supply is now rising to meet demand, prices will come under pressure.

    2
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Picking Apart The Iron Ore Conundrum

    Is China’s continued rally in iron ore prices the result of benign structural change in the steel sector, or frenzied financial speculation? Rosealea and Arthur review the competing explanations, and find both have some merit. So while a lot has to go right to avoid an ore price crash, this correction could still take a while to materialize.

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