heech wrote:And for that matter, you don't need 9-12 years of education in order to effectively work in a sweat shop sewing sneakers.
I had another thought about real estate. Let's say for the sake of argument Chinese real estate is currently 200% the correct 'fair' price (probably not far from the truth). One possibility is, of course, for real estate prices to plunge 50% and converge to that "correct" underlying price (a price supported by fundamental demand rather than speculation); many China bears are predicting exactly that, and I can understand precisely why.
It definitely helps to have more years of education for even the most simple of jobs. This is how productivity in the west can be so high. Since China's manufacturing productivity despite it good infrastructure is lower than the west the explanation for lower output has to fall on some form of education snafu.
China's USP very has been and remains, throwing million of relatively educated folks to do jobs the largely uneducated did earlier. By paying these relatively high skill folks less than their productivity should dictate.
WRT real estate the other possibility is an inability to maintain. So much of the wests effort goes into maintaining existing investments made over 100+ years that there is lower ability to expand service area. China does not yet have this problem and most/all its capital expenditure can go towards expansion rather than replacement. Typical replacement levels are 5%-6% of GDP built environment in the west. Japan too ran into this wall when its built environment began to age. The possibility exists that China will hit this wall earlier and faster.