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 and imposing government edifices in China's western desert that are empty and utterly devoid of any signs of life.
Their existence has raised more than a few red flags among investors.
Invest in the Chinese Yuan Before It Takes Over the Financial World
It's only a matter of time before the U.S. dollar loses its more than 50-year reign as the world's dominant reserve currency, and it will be replaced by the Chinese yuan.
From January 2012-January 2013, transactions in yuan grew 171% in value, moving the yuan ahead of the Russian ruble to 13th place in global currency payments, up from 20th last year.
And you can bet the yuan will soon crack the top 10. In March, yuan payments grew in value 32.7%, compared with a gain of only 5.1% across all currencies.
Part of the reason for the yuan's growth is that at least half of all trade with emerging markets could be settled in yuan by 2013- 2015, which would be up from just 3% in 2010, according to HSBC.
For Money Morning readers, the rise of the yuan shouldn't be a surprise.
Why Your Financial Future Will Be Built Upon the Chinese Yuan
If you have any illusions, put them aside now. It's the Yuan's world - the West is just living in it, or borrowing from it as the case may be.
Demand for the Yuan is growing at such a staggering rate that your financial future will be built upon it.
Admittedly, this is a very tough concept for most people to wrap their minds around. It's tough to lose "your" spot at the top and it's even tougher to know you're losing it and not be able to do anything about it because the leaders who are responsible for maintaining that position don't understand the end game.
It's made worse by Washington's insistence that the dollar is still a weapon when large swathes of the world now believe it's a liability. It's exacerbated by Europeans who forget that a sound currency actually requires underlying economic stability. It's threatened by the latest crop of Japanese bankers who seem determined to print money into oblivion.
Sadly, this is not new. The old guard always fights for the status quo when something different or not well understood like the Yuan comes onto the scene.