Thomas Friedman was among the first critics to whale on Jim Chanos over his stance that China is “Dubai x 1000.”
Friedman’s been pretty roundly smacked for his take, but he’s getting some professional help from analyst Jonathan Anderson at UBS:
The latest to join in piling on Chanos is Jonathan Anderson, the respected emerging-markets economist for UBS and a longtime China watcher. In a report this week, Anderson deployed an impressive array of charts to make the point that “China looks nothing like Dubai.” While Dubai had rapid growth in bank lending and property deals for several years before its bubble burst, he says, China hasn’t had those symptoms until that last 12 months or so – and the government is already trying to cool things down.
Rather than looking like Dubai on a continental scale, China is having more of a “mini Dubai moment,” Anderson argues. Things are going to slow down this year, which means that “‘big China bears’ could easily look like heroes for a while during 2010,” he says, “even if their more dire predictions are proven very wrong at the end of the day.”
As far as sound bites go, it’s fair to say, “mini Dubai moment” has nothing on “Dubai times a thousand.” But to be fair, Chanos’ argument is more than a sound bite. In an hour-long presentation at Oxford University’s China centre on January 28, Chanos fleshed out his views. (You can watch a video of talk here or here.)