And the band played on

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It inspired one of the most popular films in Chinese cinema history. But as metaphors go, references to the Titanic have an unmistakeable message: something grim is about to happen. So it’s not an analogy you’d expect from a real estate developer, particularly when the property mood has turned so jittery. But Pan Shiyi launched the cursed ship at a conference last Friday, telling the forum: “I think China’s property market is like the Titanic and it will soon hit an iceberg in front of it.” According to CBN, the SOHO China tycoon added: “After hitting the iceberg, the risks will not only be in the real estate sector. The bigger risk will be in the financial sector.” Pan’s view is that wealth management products and trusts will be drawn into the panic. “When housing prices fall 20% to 30%, these problems will all be exposed,” he suggested.

It turns out that he only gave his gloomy outlook because he had been assured there were no journalists in the room. “I didn’t expect there to be countless reporters hiding [in the audience],” he wrote later on weibo. But for property bears Pan’s predictions are further evidence that real estate bosses are more fearful about the market in private than they are in public. Another property executive – Mao Daqing of Vanke – made headlines with similarly bleak comments at a private dinner recently (see WiC236).

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