Previous research on the United States and Japan finds economically large impacts of changing real estate collateral value on firm investment that amplified the business cycles of those countries. Working with unique data on land values in 35 major Chinese markets and a panel of firms outside the real estate industry, we estimate investment equations that yield no evidence of a collateral channel effect. Further analysis indicates that China’s debt is not characterized by the frictions that give rise to collateral channel effects elsewhere. Essentially, financially constrained borrowers appear able credibly to commit to repay debt in China. While there is no impact on investment via the collateral channel, our results should not be interpreted as implying there will be no negative fallout from a potential real estate bust on the Chinese economy. There likely would be, but through different channels.
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