THE PHANTOM GROWTH OF CHINA'S GHOST CITIES
Seeking Alpha, May 23, 2011
Bloomberg has a new video series out called "China's Ghost Cities." (You can watch the first segment here on YouTube).
The reporter, Adam Johnson, describes how the Chinese government is building massive cities that no one lives in yet. The expectation is that China is going to "grow" into these cities.
A remarkable idea, really. The authoritarian planners in Beijing or wherever decide it would be good if, say, a million people or more could relocate to a pre-planned area.
Then they build out the infrastructure -- or rather the entire metropolis, skyscrapers, stoplights and all -- and wait.
Stop for a moment and ponder how nutty this is. The last time your editor checked, central planning was not a huge success. According to history, bureaucrats wielding directives over long distances tend to allocate resources poorly.
But are ghost cities a recipe for a bust? Some say no. The Bloomberg reporter, for instance, assures us that China's economics are different -- that is to say, "it's different this time." (Where have we heard that before ... )
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