Over 500 of the world’s biggest real estate investors gathered in Shanghai this week for an annual industry gathering to discuss investment prospects amidst a backdrop of tension in the South China Sea and a shaky mainland economy.
But for attendees at the Urban Land Institute Asia Pacific Summit, worries over interest rates, Brexit or armed conflict all paled compared to the prospect of Donald Trump becoming the next US president.
The Real Estate Developer Who’s More Dangerous Than The South China Sea
When participants at the non-partisan industry conference were asked by the organisers in an anonymous poll to name their single biggest concern as global real estate investors, the US election, and specifically the prospect of Trump being elected, was named as the biggest negative factor facing the economy by 26 percent of respondents. The thought of the real estate billionaire running the world’s biggest economy was a much larger worry for his industry colleagues than China’s current economic slowdown, which was named as the primary obstacle by 22 percent of the conference attendees.
Some 20 percent of respondents said that a potential bubble in developed markets outranked other threats. 16 percent of respondents named the potential for conflict between China and Japan or over China’s land grab in the South China Sea as their over-riding concern, with the same amount pointing to the prospects for future interest rate hikes as the outstanding threat.
The ULI vote came during the same week that former New York governor Eliott Spitzer criticized Trump at an industry event in Manhattan, saying “If you want to lend money to him, good luck. Hire a lawyer.” Spitzerk, who now heads his own real estate company in New York added that, “I would not suggest you do business with him.”
China a Primary Target of Trump’s Wrath
In addition to his threats to build a wall between the US and Mexico to cut down on illegal immigration, and calls to ban admission of muslims into the US, Trump has used his campaign speeches to criticise Chinese policies and business practices.
While campaigning under the slogan “Make America Great Again,” the presumptive Republican nominee has told crowds that “China is ripping us off” and tells his American supporters that “China is raping us” on trade. Trump has promised that on his first day as president he would declare China a “currency manipulator” and says that he would demand 45 percent import duties on Chinese goods.
The Washington-based ULI is an 80 year-old non-profit dedicated to “the responsible use of land” and publishes research on urban development, as well as holding non-partisan meetings to promote best practices in real estate development.
Participants at the three-day long conference included representatives of major US private equity investors such as Blackstone, investment bankers from Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and developers such as Tishman Speyer and Hines.
From other parts of the world, many of the largest sovereign wealth funds and institutional investors were represented including Singapore’s GIC and Canada’s Brookfield, along with Chinese companies such as China Vanke and Shui On Land.
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