China Is Headed for a "Lehman Moment" - Here's What to Do

It's Friday, so we're going to have some fun. We'll combine the premise of a popular 1970s movie with a tried and so-far successful policy prescription for averting financial disaster. All of this relates to what triggers an actual capital markets and global economic meltdown, because it all pertains to China's imploding property market.

The premise of the 1979 disaster movie The China Syndrome was that a nuclear power plant leak in the U.S. would melt all the way through the earth's center to China. Now, the opposite is actually true. The potential meltdown of the Chinese property market, the largest asset class in the world at $60 trillion, could burn global capital markets through the world to the U.S.

Already, the tip of the titanic property market, Evergrande, once China's largest property developer in terms of valuation, is melting to its core. Evergrande first defaulted on some loans in 2021 and now they're out of money to pay any more interest or principal on any loans or bonds.

The developer's already left millions of would-be homeowners who bought into more than 700 residential property projects, many of which are being built or may never be finished or ever occupied, in the lurch. Mortgage borrowers have stopped paying for homes they may never see.

Country Garden, once China's largest property developer in terms of sales, with more than 3000 projects completed and under construction - including many finished unoccupied apartment complexes - has missed debt payments and is failing. And yet, like Evergrande, it was once considered too big to fail.

And it's not just residential property that's in trouble. All across China, newly built shopping malls are empty, having never been occupied. Towering office buildings and entire cities are empty. Construction sites everywhere are idle. There's no company cash flow to keep working on projects. No money in the form of pre-sales to finish abandoned residential projects. No money flowing from wealth management products mom and pop investors across China flocked to for their high interest rates, courtesy of the expected high interest to be paid by property developer borrowers.

It's not just the amount of leverage in the system, or comedown in the once $60 trillion valuation of Chinese property, or how much is owed to how many. All of that can theoretically be calculated. It's that 70%-80% of the Chinese population's wealth is tied to property that's unimaginable.

So, it's not just about developers, or borrowing, or defaulting, or markets. It's about the core of the Chinese economy and the population's future that's melting down.

In the past, whether it was Treasury Secretary John Paulson promising to pull out a metaphorical bazooka to blast through subprime market melting problems, or in 2012 ECB president Mario Draghi telling the world the European Commission would do "whatever it takes" to save the splintering European Union and European banks, policy makers have alluded to or in fact used their bazookas, their ultimate weapon to arrest financial meltdowns, whatever those measures were or would have to be.

Well, China's policy makers better have a stockpile of bazookas because their property problem won't be fixed by one or two or a hundred. So far Chinese regulators, officials, policy police and CCP leaders have fired small bore fixes at the problem, like reducing mortgage rates, loosening restrictive regulations on speculating in property, prompting banks and local governments to lend to developers to keep them afloat, but everything they're doing isn't enough.

Property prices keep sinking. And the death spiral keeps picking up speed.

Remember what happened in the U.S. when home prices, which only ever went up, or so everyone thought and bet on, went down? The $800 billion subprime bubble burst, imploding investment bank Lehman Brothers and triggering a wave of contagion that swept across the globe.

That so-called "Lehman Moment" is going to happen again, only not in the U.S., in China, when the property dam - that's been plugged with proverbial gum and goo - breaks.

If America's $800 billion subprime meltdown caused an insane financial crisis and Great Recession, imagine, if you can, what the implosion of a $60 trillion asset class will do. If you can't, then imagine if a nuclear meltdown actually could burn its way through the earth. Because that's what it's going to feel like.

That's why it's time to start shorting China, and there are a bunch of ways to do it: short the iShares China Large-Cap ETF (FXI) or any Chinese-centric ETF, buy puts or put spreads on Chinese ETFs or banks or any asset related to Chinese property - however you do it, now's the time.

And real estate isn't the only area of China's economy that's in a struggle. I've been shouting from the rooftops for a while now about the potential consequences of the "chip wars" currently going on between China and the United States. With their property market in jeopardy, they could double down on trying to assert control over the next generation of AI microchips, with potentially dire consequences if they succeed at doing it.

That's why I wanted to make sure you know exactly how to protect your investments and even potentially grow your wealth in the months ahead as this all shakes out. Everything you need to know is at this link.

The post China Is Headed for a "Lehman Moment" - Here's What to Do appeared first on Total Wealth.

About the Author

Shah Gilani boasts a financial pedigree unlike any other. He ran his first hedge fund in 1982 from his seat on the floor of the Chicago Board of Options Exchange. When options on the Standard & Poor's 100 began trading on March 11, 1983, Shah worked in "the pit" as a market maker.

The work he did laid the foundation for what would later become the VIX - to this day one of the most widely used indicators worldwide. After leaving Chicago to run the futures and options division of the British banking giant Lloyd's TSB, Shah moved up to Roosevelt & Cross Inc., an old-line New York boutique firm. There he originated and ran a packaged fixed-income trading desk, and established that company's "listed" and OTC trading desks.

Shah founded a second hedge fund in 1999, which he ran until 2003.

Shah's vast network of contacts includes the biggest players on Wall Street and in international finance. These contacts give him the real story - when others only get what the investment banks want them to see.

Today, as editor of Hyperdrive Portfolio, Shah presents his legion of subscribers with massive profit opportunities that result from paradigm shifts in the way we work, play, and live.

Shah is a frequent guest on CNBC, Forbes, and MarketWatch, and you can catch him every week on Fox Business's Varney & Co.

Read full bio