Bad News: Chinese Property Debt Is Even Higher Than Thought

Among the big questions for anxious investors in Chinese property bonds: How much debt do developers really have? Figuring that out may be far less easy than expected.

Case in point: struggling developer Kaisa’s surprise announcement last week that a wealth-management product it has guaranteed missed a payment. Shares and bonds of Kaisa plunged as a result. Some WMPs backed by Evergrande also failed to pay out on time in September, leading to protests. Such products aren’t necessarily directly issued by developers, but the companies may still be on the hook. And there are few details about them in their financial statements.