A Bubble to Burst in China?

As housing costs rise in China, a TV soap opera about the housing hunt has become a runaway hit. And while many in the growing country are concerned about the high cost of housing, some economists fear a burst of the bubble.
December 31, 2009, 5am PST | Nate Berg
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"The trials of a young couple trying to find affordable housing may not sound like gripping television fare, but with real-estate prices spiralling out of control in China, Snail House was a hit when it went on the air in July. The gritty plot – revolving around two sisters trying to establish themselves in a fictional city that looks a lot like Shanghai – hit so close to the bone that Chinese authorities cancelled the show after only 10 episodes. It quickly found a new life online, where some 30 million people have viewed it.

The runaway popularity of the show highlights a dark undercurrent to what has otherwise been a successful year for the Chinese economy.

While the world marvels at China's ability to maintain an 8-per-cent growth rate amid a global recession, many ordinary Chinese don't see that translating into the better standards of living they envisioned. Economists, meanwhile, worry that speculation-driven investment is creating an expanding Dubai-style bubble in China's real-estate market."

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Published on Monday, December 28, 2009 in The Globe and Mail
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