China's "ghost cities" present the West with the shocking images of vast urban areas that sit nearly empty.
In a striking report, shown recently on CBS News' "60 Minutes,"there are rows of high-rise apartment buildings, tracts full of suburban American-sized detached homes andÂ imposing government edifices in China's westernÂ desert that are empty and utterly devoid of any signs of life.
Their existence has raised more than a few red flags among investors.
Famed hedge fund manager Jim Chanos, for one, warns that these ghost cities represent the ominous specter of a bubble and that China should be relegated to ten-foot pole status.
"Anything that's depending on the Chinese economic miracle I would be careful of," Chanos said in a recent "Squawk Box" interview.
A long time China bear, he's part of an amen corner of those who say that China's ghost cities are a sign of some trickery in the way the Chinese government presents its GDP to the world. Â
They claim that it's heavily dependent on infrastructure construction, and what we are seeing now is build-out running amok, without purpose, a complete waste of money.
As a result all of them see China as on the way out, a risky proposition, a sinking ship, or a fool's errand.
But, as it turns out, all of them are dead wrong.Â
According to Keith Fitz-Gerald, Chief Investment Strategist at Money Map Press, all of them lack a complete understanding of the realities on the ground there.
As long-time resident of Asia, and a keen, street-level observer of the Chinese economy, Keith would know. Not surprisingly, his view is quite different from the doom 'n gloom crowd.
"They perpetually make this argument about the ghost cities," says Keith, "What makes these cities seem different is the numbers, and that they're being built on a scale that's just incomprehensible to Western analysts."Â
But the "ghost cities" are not a uniquely Chinese phenomenon, and their scale is really only a matter of degree.
The truth is there are large, empty developments all over the world, including the United States. In those countries, "ghost cities" happen wherever developers may have misjudged demand. The difference is China's "ghost cities" appear on a grand scale, because China itself is on a grand scale. Â
China's "Ghost Cities": The Promise of Great Expectations
On the contrary, Keith believes China's "ghost cities" herald great expectations.