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China and the curse of the Skyscraper Index

posted 11 Dec 2012, 05:00 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 11 Dec 2012, 05:00 ]

Reuters Business Report -   Knitting up what will be China's tallest building, in Shanghai.

Scheduled to open in 2014 the Shanghai Tower will hover over China's current champion -- theShanghai World Financial Center.

But the building boom isn't necessarily good news for China's economy.

According to the Skyscraper Index, the rise of ego-boosting monuments often precedes a market crash.

New York's Chrysler and Empire State Building signaled the Great Depression; The World Trade Center -- the oil crisis; Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers -- the Asian financial crisis; and finally the current world's tallest building in Dubai, Burj Khalifa -- the latest debt troubles.

In 2008 when the Shanghai World Financial Center opened, China's benchmark stock index dropped by more than half.

Andrew Lawrence developed the index.

What's now caught his eye isn't in Shanghai but a planned project in the smaller city of Changsha -- The Sky City to be built in 2013, which at 838 meters would surpass the Burj Kalifah.

PROPERTY ANALYST, BARCLAYS CAPITAL, ANDREW LAWRENCE, SAYING:

"What we are seeing is an extended credit expansion cycle and that credit expansion cycle is effectively creating a building boom. The fact that China is already planning the world's next tallest building is probably the biggest concern here on top of a large building bubble that moves out to tier one, tier two cities."

REUTERS TV CORRESPONDENT, JANE LANHEE LEE, SAYING:

"But here at one of China's biggest construction equipment fairs where global companies show off their tallest cranes and monster dump trucks, executives say the coming years will be better. They're betting on the government's infrastructure projects to help."

Shang Peiyi builds tower cranes.

GENERAL MANAGER, KERUI HEAVY MACHINERY, SHANG PEIYI, SAYING:

"The international theorists continue to get their outlook on China wrong. They say the economy inChina should go bust. But we've continued to grow. I think China is different from the world. We have a huge population and the next 10 years will see fast urbanization."

So will China break the curse of the skyscraper index? The world will be watching.


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