In February 2016 we explained, correctly in retrospect, that the reason behind the unprecedented surge in Vancouver home prices was the seemingly constant flood of “hot Chinese money” desperate to park itself as far away from China’s banking system, and into offshore real-estate. This is how we laid out the stylized sequence of events that culminated with Vancouver home prices surging by over 20%:
- Chinese investors smuggled out millions in embezzled cash, hot money or perfectly legal funds, bypassing the $50,000/year limit in legal capital outflows.
- They make “all cash” purchases, usually sight unseen, using third parties intermediaries to preserve their anonymity, or directly in person, in cities like Vancouver, New York, London or San Francisco.
- The house becomes a new “Swiss bank account”, providing the promise of an anonymous store of value and retaining the cash equivalent value of the original capital outflow.
- Then the owners disappear, never to be heard from or seen again.
Separately, in mid-2015, when bitcoin was still trading in the low $200s, we also predicted that in an attempt to bypass China’s increasingly more draconian capital controls, Chinese oligarchs and ordinary savers would increasingly turn to what at the time was a largely unregulated medium of exchange: bitcoin.
we would not be surprised to see another push higher in the value of bitcoin: it was earlier this summer when the digital currency, which can bypass capital controls and national borders with the click of a button, surged on Grexit concerns and fears a Drachma return would crush the savings of an entire nation. Since then, BTC has dropped (in no small part as a result of the previously documented “forking” with Bitcoin XT), however if a few hundred million Chinese decide that the time has come to use bitcoin as the capital controls bypassing currency of choice, and decide to invest even a tiny fraction of the $22 trillion in Chinese deposits in bitcoin (whose total market cap at last check was just over $3 billion), sit back and watch as we witness the second coming of the bitcoin bubble, one which could make the previous all time highs in the digital currency, seems like a low print.
With one bitcoin now going for roughly $1,800 – and with the PBOC repeatedly cracking down on all forms of bitcoin cross-border flow – this prediction also turned out to be right.
So putting the two together, at least one enterprising Canadian homeowner has decided to make life for potential Chinese buyers especially easy, and in a posting on the Hong Kong edition of Craigslist, has listed a relatively modest Vancouver house for the price of 2,099 bitcoin.
At today’s exchange rate of US$1,737 for one bitcoin, the US dollar equivalent price is roughly $3.6 million or C$4.9 million. So what does nearly five million Canadian dollars buy enterprising Chinese investors who are willing to pay up for the convenience of bypassing currency conversion into Canadian dollars altogether? This: