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China’s Housing Booms: A Challenge to Bubble Theory

Les booms immobiliers en Chine, un défi à la théorie de la bulle

Natacha Aveline-Dubach ()
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Natacha Aveline-Dubach: GC (UMR_8504) - Géographie-cités - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UPCité - Université Paris Cité

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Abstract: Over the past two decades, Chinese cities have experienced real estate booms displaying clear signs of "bubble" elements, including, inter allia, prohibitive residential prices, an accumulation of debt, and severe overbuilding. In 2014, many media commentators claimed that Chinese property markets were about to burst. Yet house prices have started to rise again in major cities, and no significant slowdown has been recorded to date. This chapter addresses the challenges posed by China's residential market dynamics to the bubble theory. Adopting a political economy perspective that breaks with the approaches of real estate economics, it highlights the self-fulfilling logic of the housing booms, resulting from pervasive practices of land value capture by local governments. The paper stresses the inadequacy of the bubble framework to distinguish speculative and "fundamental" explanatory factors of price increases, and provides an alternative reading based on André Orléan's theory of conventions. It is argued that the asymmetric nature of the State's regulation of housing markets-a failure to rein in housing price hikes, yet efficiency in managing downturns-has played a crucial role in shaping the common representation of the market by investors. Beyond the challenge to bubble theory, China's experience of housing booms opens the way for the recognition of alternative paths to finance-led regimes of capital accumulation in the built environment.

Keywords: Real estate; China -- Politics and government; Bubble; Urban land; Bulle immobilière; Foncier urbain; Chine -- politique et gouvernement (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020-01-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cna and nep-ure
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Published in Denise Pumain. Théories et modèles d'urbanisation, Theories and Models of Urbanization, Springer, pp.183-208, 2020, 978-3-030-36655-1. ⟨10.1007/978-3-030-36656-8_11⟩

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DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-36656-8_11

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