In all the commodity bust stories, journalists often come back to “China’s slowdown” and the scale of the over-investment that has taken place there. You get pictures like this:

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To me, those all look like the same city. But perhaps that’s just homogenous Chinese efficiency (which would be ironic, given how apparently inefficient they’re being at allocating their capital).

But then you get this:

Thanks this website
Thanks this website

Between 2010 and 2025, China is expecting a further 300 million Chinese to move into cities. Out of a population of 1.3 billion. That is: 4% of the world’s population. If those 300 million people were a country, they would be about the same number of people as live in the USA; and in terms of population size: the third largest, behind only China and India (and on par with the USA).

That is a colossal amount of people to be moving into cities: needing homes and plumbing and road infrastructure and places to work. Imagine re-building America.

So I guess the question is: did China really over-invest in infrastructure, or did it just hit a blip where its infrastructure investment has temporarily out-sped the rate of urban growth?

To say nothing of India, and its own infrastructure shortage.

It’s just a speculative thought.

Rolling Alpha posts about finance, economics, and sometimes stuff that is only quite loosely related. Follow me on Twitter @RollingAlpha, or like my page on Facebook at Or both.