This is becoming a burning question in many households across China. I ask many financial industry experts, but get distressingly few answers.
It doesn’t seem likely that buying property as an investment will earn positive returns in the next few years in many cities. There is already an overhang not just of new build supply, but also of properties bought as investments. Right or wrong, the mindset for many is that they have enough, if not too much domestic property.
So what else is on offer?
For those of a risk-seeking mindset, they could invest in the main stock markets even after the 80% run up since July last year.
And then there is the new Third Board exchange, with its couple of thousand private companies. Not sure there is much in the way of reliable investor research available for the brave individuals who invest in these companies.
Taking advantage of the Shanghai-Hong Kong through train? A similar education process is needed to convince mainland investors to use the through train to invest in Hong Kong listed stocks. And given how much of the market in Hong Kong is made up of mainland companies and mainland dependent companies, in the end they may not choose to do so.
High yield trust products? The government is trying again to convince investors that they won’t stand behind all these products. Do you believe them? If not, then this still offers some of the best returns you can get.
Corporate or the new local government bonds? Expectations are for interest rates to decline, and so offer some capital appreciation for bond holders. Advice from professional investment advisors is often to focus on these.
International property? Chinese investors continue to invest at scale in premier real estate hubs around the world, whether for appreciation in value or diversification, I’m not sure.
And what about under the mattress? If we are heading into a period of consumer deflation in China (we have had factory price deflation for 3 years already) then I suspect a lot more money may well end up there.