As the Olympic Games came to a close last August, Chinese officials could rest easy knowing they had accomplished their goal of showing the world that Beijing was ready to take its rightful place among the world’s top-tier cities. Approximately US$41 billion of public-funded infrastructure improvements and new athletic facilities, as well as additional billions of dollars of private investment in office, retail and hotel assets, had turned the smoggy, third-world city into a gleaming metropolis.
From the Current Issue
The inaugural Editorial Advisory Board meeting of The Institutional Real Estate Letter – Asia Pacific was held 4–6 November 2008 in the midst of an unprecedented global economic crisis — the Big Bang, if you will — that has demonstrated the interconnectedness and interdependence of countries around the world in a way hard to imagine just a year ago. With ears still ringing from the Bang, Asian institutional property investors, investment managers and consultants met in the picturesque ancient capital city of Kyoto, Japan, to discuss concerns, investment plans and ideas about moving forward across an expanding global investment landscape rife with increasing uncertainties.
Real estate is a local business, right? This is true for the occupational markets: Operating in these local environments requires local expertise. But the capital markets — both equity and debt — are global in nature, and that has been very evident in the Asia Pacific markets this past quarter. While occupational markets remained healthy during third quarter 2008, the extraordinary events in the financial markets during September and early October 2008 have had an adverse impact on the near-term outlook. Given the propensity of retail investors in Asia to invest in the stock markets, the wealth destruction in the equity markets during this relatively short period had an immediate and material negative impact on sentiment in the region.
Peter Mitchell is CEO of the Asian Public Real Estate Association (APREA), a nonprofit organization that promotes and represents the real estate sector in the Asia Pacific region. Mitchell recently spoke with The Institutional Real Estate Letter – Asia Pacific editor Jennifer Molloy about his organization and his thoughts on the current state of the Asian real estate market.
During the past six months, we have witnessed unprecedented disturbances in the global financial sectors. China is not immune to the rippling impacts and suffers most in its export industry, which had constituted 37 percent of its GDP in 2007. In anticipation of a prolonged period of export decline, China is launching major policies to stimulate domestic spending and investments in fixed assets. This will lead to substantial changes in its real estate investment focus and create a range of opportunities for infrastructure investment. This overall change in national development focus will have considerable impacts for foreign investors.
Many interesting opinions have been voiced questioning the fundamentals of modern portfolio theory (MPT) and the accounting rules that provided little help in the recent market meltdown, some of which may even have helped to exaggerate the downward spiral.