18 November 2022

Video of the day -- the ghost cities

All over China stand huge, uninhabited cities of high-rise apartment buildings.  Their reason for existing reveals yet another side of China's Potemkin economy.


Blogger JustGail said...

Fascinating! Creepy. Cold, soulless, Soviet block house inspired monstrosities. Yet some of those buildings are cool, like that circular one in the last part of the video.

I recently saw a show on the Science channel about the earth's rotational axis (not just magnetic poles moving about) is changing at least in part due to all those concrete monstrosities. Ground water aquifers being pumped dry around the world is another big contributor.

18 November, 2022 08:22  
Blogger NickM said...

I guess this is one of the big downsides of having a politburo centrally plan your economy... You frequently get things that are neither good nor necessary...

This https://quillette.com/2022/11/16/affirming-your-inner-fursona/ might interest you for a link round-up or similar. it is trans-ideology (possibly literaly) jumping the shark... I suspect its increasingly the pseudo-academics to blame for the rise of trans-stuff. They have to make the whole thing into a general ideology rather than a rare phsychological/physical condition or in the case of when I first heard of furries just cos-play.

18 November, 2022 09:54  
Anonymous Reaganite Independent said...

Command economy, missing the demand part. All this stuff is built with debt, that’s why the developers are in trouble

18 November, 2022 14:23  
Anonymous Reaganite Independent said...

I think the intimidating nature of socialist/brutalist architecture had a political purpose, meant to intimidate the populace and make them feel individually insignificant

18 November, 2022 14:25  
Anonymous Reaganite Independent said...

Very informative- from following the Evergrand case I was under the impression these are largely built on spec and sit unsold, but I guess not.

That’s some turbocharged real estate bubble over there, the prices sound ludicrous, based purely on (mass) speculation— I guess that’s why Xi is cementing his power base for the inevitable crash

19 November, 2022 06:07  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

JustGail: They do look rather Soviet-era -- I've been to Kyiv and early post-World-War-II parts of the city had the same rows and rows of buildings very much like that. I guess in China they throw in something more interesting now and then to maintain the fiction that it's a real city.

I really doubt that they are affecting the Earth's rotation, though. The mass of all the man-made structures on Earth is completely insignificant compared to the Earth itself.

NickM: Actually, central planning wouldn't have messed things up in this particular way. The ghost cities are the result of market forces, albeit with (apparently) some very dumb investors who don't grasp the concept of a bubble or realize that lack of residential demand means all these empty buildings have no real value.

Reaganite: Many societies throughout history have used monumental architecture to exalt the dominant group and make individuals feel insignificant. It usually wasn't this ugly, though.

It does seem to be pretty much the same as the Dutch tulip bulb thing or cryptocurrency -- people buying essentially worthless assets in the confidence that there will always be a "greater fool" to sell them to at an even higher price. The problem is that eventually you run out of greater fools and the bubble collapses. The implosion of a bubble this huge will be quite a sight to behold, from a safe distance.

19 November, 2022 06:46  
Anonymous Reaganite Independent said...

I lived in one of these 1980s-era communist apartment blocks in Prague for 2 years- the Czechs call them ‘panelaks’

19 November, 2022 08:03  
Blogger run75441 said...

It has been a while since I have been in Shenzhen, Jinan, Shanghai, Shantou, Tianjin, etc. China. I was told by one Chinese engineer the Chinese populace could not afford these apartments.

In Shenzhen near Hong Kong, I passed a new and empty shopping mall. Just acres of buildings never to be occupied. Its construction was meant to keep Labor employed so they would not revolt.

I loved Hong Kong. Beijing was too crowded. The Ming Tombs and the Wall were vry interesting.

20 November, 2022 21:42  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Absorbing workers to reduce unemployment may be one reason why the regime tolerates all this unproductive construction. The problem is that it still is unproductive -- work that could be producing things of value is just being wasted. The Chinese equivalent of the Bezos dick-shaped rocket.

21 November, 2022 20:42  
Anonymous CAS said...

Very interesting story. When this real estate market collapses, which seems inevitable, I wonder how it might affect the economies of Western nations.

26 November, 2022 13:42  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

I'm no expert on economics, but I suspect the effects on the West might not be all that great. The main immediate effect within China would be a contraction in spending, since people would feel poorer as all the imaginary wealth disappears. However, no Western economy depends much on China as a market for its exports (China exports a lot but imports far less), so a contraction in demand there would not hurt our exporting industries much.

If the crash led to major unrest within China, that might have more of an impact on Western companies that still do a lot of manufacturing there, but lately more and more companies have been moving their activities out of China anyway.

26 November, 2022 16:35  

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