Evergrande, three




analyst similarity astronomical
verge obligation intervention
aware deposit run of the mill
mill multiple subcontractor
erect property loose/lost/lost
predict compare buy/bought/bought
employ knock (2) widespread
invest save up backup (2)
as if inevitable lose/lost/lost
threat apparent put/put/put
crisis bail out kick off (2)
rate prepare bubble (2)
leak contain simultaneous
allow strategy go bankrupt
alter real time insolvency
fail average on their books
roll cautious leave for dead
sort of speculate bad/worse/worst
asset regulator real estate
factor intervene take on (2)
lease purchase sell/sold/sold
pre- liquidate put down a deposit
borrow force (3) down payment
rapid win-win expansion
lend hold onto line of credit
yoink figure (4) make sense
loan collapse appreciate (2)
push attempt push to the extreme
limit profitable as fast as possible
equity potential effectively
reliant inventory nuts and bolts
attract step in (2) operation (2)
sell off faucet (2) worse case scenario
tactic scenario in reference
buy up profitable gain access
exist prop up impact (2)
flow steep (2) for starters
offset holding undermine
ignore negotiate residential
alarm leak out lead/led/led
overall attitude seek/sought/sought
snag cover (2) raise alarm bells
inject discount slow down
own press (2) propensity
pay off flood (2) put down (2)
fund securities drive/drove/driven (2)
loan discount stream (2)
replace mortgage drive down
falter concerned roll them all up
unrest linchpin interconnect
guess catastrophe






Evergrande is China’s largest property development company, and was (up until recently) one of the most valuable companies in the world.

However most analysts are now predicting that this company is on the verge of insolvency, and won’t be able to meet its mountainous debt obligations without direct government intervention within the next few weeks.

For those of you who are not already aware, this has the potential to be far more than a run of the mill corporate bankruptcy.

The company employs over 200,000 people directly while also providing work for as many as 4 million subcontractors who work to erect thousands of buildings for the company every year.

Beyond just job losses, the company is also holding deposits for 1.5 million properties that may not be delivered to regular Chinese citizens, who were just looking for a home or an investment property.

Now loosing a home is terrible in ANY country, but perhaps nowhere more so than in China. The value of these properties compared to the incomes of people buying them is astronomical, and it often takes multiple family generations to save up for a deposit.

Because of this, real estate has become basically the only thing that most people invest in, and over a million people losing that investment will have massive knock on economic impacts beyond just putting people out on the streets (as is that wasn’t bad enough already).

Despite these social issues and the apparent threat to the national and global economy, the Chinese government has said that they are not prepared to bail out the company.


Well politics…

But there are a few things that you need to understand about this crisis as we watch it play out in real time. The first is how this collapse actually started in what looked like an otherwise very healthy company.

The second is how bad could this get if the government DOESN’T step in. And the third is, Will this all be contained? Or could this leak out and cause an economic collapse in countries outside of China?

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Alright, so many people are calling this China’s Lehman moment, in reference to the American investment bank Lehman Brothers which was allowed to go bankrupt in 2008, effectively kicking off the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.

There are a lot of similarities here. Both of these companies are very large, they both have a lot of debt on their books; that debt is being offset with assets that may not be nearly as valuable as people might think.

And finally they both look to have been left for dead by their governments which have decided to let them fail.

Now of course Evergrande is not a bank, it’s a property development company, but in China that’s almost worse. Property is basically the only thing that average citizens invest in, so it’s as if you took the US financial market and housing market and rolled them all up into one for people to speculate on… sort of like in 2008.

Now the regulators knew this, and they saw the problem of an asset price bubble having the potential to cause major economic factors. It’s because of this, that the story of Evergrande’s problems actually start more than a year ago in August of 2020.

Property is never “owned” in China, it is leased from the government for a set amount of time most commonly 70 years. These land leases are then purchased by property developers like Evergrande.

The property developers will then design apartment buildings and pre-sell the units they designed to regular investors who will put down a deposit and wait for the buildings to actually be finished.

The developer can then take this money and use it as a down payment to borrow even more money to either buy up more land leases, or to use on the actual construction of buildings on that land.

This system works very well for rapid expansion and it is in theory a win-win for everybody.

Evergrande and other developers were able to buy up more 70 year leases and build more houses. Regular investors were able to get access to properties that were far cheaper than existing apartments for sale in china. And the banks and non-bank lenders were able to give money to an institution that was offering good returns on a secured line of credit.

Most of these lenders figured that in the extremely unlikely scenario that a company like Evergrande defaulted on it’s debt’s, they could just yoink the properties they had on their books and easily cover all of these loans.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Now… Evergrande had seen that properties in China were appreciating at a rate of about 10% – 15% per year, so they wanted to push this limit to the extreme. They wanted to borrow more money, buy up more land rights, pre-sell more apartments all in an attempt to grow as fast as possible.

This DID work well, the company was highly profitable, it always had more assets than liabilities and continually gave consistent returns to both equity and debt investors. But all good things must come to an end.

And that brings us back to August of 2020, when the Chinese government introduced new laws to control the amount of debts that developers could take on, and also how the money that companies like Evergrande were getting of pre-sales could be used.

This was a big problem because it radically altered the high growth business model that the company had become reliant on. The company basically needed a constant stream of new money coming in from property buyers to keep the whole operation running.

But it did have a backup plan: If this money ever slowed down the developer could just lower the prices on their pre-sales to attract more buyers and prop up the system again.

Sure they wouldn’t make as much profit, but it’s better than nothing. In a worst case scenario, the company just kept certain properties on their own books as real estate assets.

This meant that they could borrow even more against the value of these finished properties and never need to realise a loss by selling a property for more than it cost to build.

This was not a bad strategy, considering property price growth in China meant that the company only ever needed to hold onto these properties for a few months at most before market forces made them profitable to sell again.

However these new regulations meant that the company was forced to hold onto more and more existing properties while also needing to sell off their new developments at increasingly steep discounts to keep the money flowing in.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

This caused two problems: for starters it undermined all of the holdings that they had to offset their liabilities.

I said at the beginning of this video that the company had more assets than it did liabilities, and that is technically true, but only if you accept that HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS worth of residential real estate holdings are worth as much as the company says it is.

Even if we ignore the propensity of Chinese companies to… “massage”… their figures a bit, this is an alarming number because these assets are NOT liquid… which leads us to the next problem.

The new regulations have made it harder for the company to borrow money to complete the projects it was working on. This has meant that the company has had to sell more pre-sales to fund existing projects, which are in turn going to be even harder to get funding for.

The questions raised about the true value of the companies real estate holdings has meant that the company has had to seek finance from not one or two banks like most companies, but from over 128 different banks and hundreds of other non-bank lenders.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

This started to raise alarm bells with individual property investors who were waiting on their homes to be finished. Potential investors were starting to see these massive real estate development projects (that used to sell out within a matter of hours) were now being discounted over and over again to try and attract buyers.

Even if their overall attitude towards the real estate market was bullish, it only made sense to sit back a bit and see if they could snag themselves a bigger discount.

This closed the faucet on the cash injector that kept everything going causing bigger discounts and bigger question marks over how much the companies inventory of property was actually worth.

Now the company is in a situation where it lacks the funds it needs to pay for day to day operations beyond the next few weeks.

Of course it could sell off these existing real estate assets as a last ditch attempt to free up some cash flow, but it would now be at a massive discount given the bad press and the fact that they wouldn’t really have time to negotiate too hard on price.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Now that leads us onto how bad this could get. If the government did not intervene at all the company would go into liquidation, the 1.5 million people that have paid their deposits for homes that have not yet been built would lose that money and the properties on the companies books would be sold off as quickly as possible, flooding the market with properties for sale.

Even in a company as hungry for real estate as China this would inevitably drive down prices. It would simultaneously put more eyes on the other property development companies who would inevitably be in a similar situation.

If property prices fall then their inventories are going to be worth less too, meaning they will have less assets to secure loans against, which means more difficulty completing projects, which means more trouble paying off loans which means more liquidations.

If you replace the words “Chinese Apartments” with “Mortgage Backed Securities” it is easy to see why people are calling this a Lehman Moment.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Which leaves just one final question… Will this impact markets in the west?

The GFC quickly spread from the US to Europe and then on around the world. China is the second largest economy in the world so it’s not unreasonable to be a little concerned with the same thing happening here right?

Well yeah, we should all be cautious of what this could mean, but I wouldn’t be overly worried just yet.

China’s markets by design are very closed off to the outside world which means that they are much less interconnected with American markets than say American markets are with European markets.

What’s more is that it’s hard to believe that the Chinese government would let it get quiet that bad. The strength and unfaltering growth of the economy has been the linchpin of the current government.

If they were to loose that they would not only have to deal with an economic catastrophe, but also widespread civil unrest as well.

As I said, this is a developing situation, so your guess about what comes next is just as good as mine, but at least you know the nuts and bolts of the problem that they are facing.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *



Investment. Is Evergrande a tech giant? Is it high-tech company?

Bank, Borrow, Lend. Do people in China have many diverse streams of income through investments?

Real Estate, Property. Describe the basic business strategy of Evergrande and other property developers in China. What is the basic business strategy of Everygrande?

Speculation, Bubble. Did they operate conservatively and cautiously, or was it (over)ambitious, (over)optimistic and (over)confident?

Debt, Liability. What was the turning point of Evergrande’s fortunes? What may have been the “straw that broke the camel’s back”?

Shares, Bonds. Evergrande had an emergency plan or a Plan B and Plan C. Is this right or wrong?

Confidence, Optimism. Had Evergrande entered into a vicious circle? Is Evergrande in a negative feedback loop?

Agent, Brokerage, Consultant. If Evergrande goes bankrupt, it’s just their problem. It will only affect their employees. True or false?

Assets, Liquid Assets, Liquidity.
Has the government stepped in? So far, has the government been involved? Will the government definitely rescue Evergrande?

Ponzi Scheme.
What may have led to this situation? Why is Evergrande in trouble?

Mortgage, Rent. Real estate and properties a large part of my country’s economy, Yes or no?

Construction, Contractor. Do many people invest in housing and property? Describe their investments.

Vendor, Supplier. How would you describe housing and property values? Describe the trend over the years. Do experts and ordinary citizens feel that there is a property bubble?

Stock Market, Share Prices, Indices. What might happen in the future?

Interest, Returns, Dividends. What should people, businesses and governments do?

Comments are closed.