The Evergrande Troubles – The New York Times

I was sitting at a stoplight in Beijing when I first noticed the young men who would walk in between cars and hand out brochures to drivers. I rolled down the window and took one. To my surprise, it was a for-sale advertisement for apartments in a newly constructed building.

This was in 2010, when the American economy was still enduring the aftereffects of its burst housing bubble. I had covered the rise of that bubble, and the fliers in Beijing reminded me of Florida during its frothiest days: The Chinese real-estate market had grown so hot that the people were marketing apartments at red lights, as if buying one were as common as buying a soda.

There were many other signs of a property bubble during that trip. On sidewalks in Shanghai, I walked past real-estate agencies that had set up outdoor tables, to accommodate all of the demand. During my first night staying at a new hotel in the small city of Wuqi, I didn’t see a single other guest — in the lobby, restaurant or elevators. Around this same time, Jim Chanos, a prominent American investor, warned that China’s real-estate excesses had placed it on a “treadmill to hell” and that the bubble might burst at any point.

But the bubble did not burst in 2010. It did not burst in 2011, nor has it burst in the decade since — unless, that is, it’s starting to do so this week