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Forget Everything You Thought You Knew About China

By Brett Eversole
Wednesday, July 6, 2016

This was my second time visiting China. But everything I saw reinforced what I learned on my first trip...
Everything I thought I knew about China was wrong.
And if you're like me and most Americans, everything you think you know about China is probably wrong, too...
During the 45-minute drive from downtown Shanghai to the Pudong Airport, we passed massive housing development after massive housing development. But we didn't see even one single-family home.
Most of the developments were about 10 buildings wide by 10 buildings deep – and often 20 stories or higher. At 10 apartments per floor, a single complex would hold roughly 20,000 apartments. And these complexes rose out of the ground in all directions, mile after mile.
One of our contacts in China confirmed what we saw...
"Shanghai has a population of almost 25 million, and everyone lives in an apartment," he explained. "There are no suburban neighborhoods like you have in America."
Shanghai is one of the world's most populous cities – without a single "house."
Twenty-five million people all living in apartments might not sound luxurious. Especially considering median incomes in China are less than one-fifth of those in the U.S... it might even sound "third world."
But nothing feels "third world" about being on the streets in Shanghai, one of China's major cities.
There was a bright green Lamborghini parked in front of our hotel. Ferraris, Porsches, and other high-end vehicles were all over the road. My experience was that it's actually easier to find a Tesla on the road than it is to find an old junker.
In fact, most things are expensive in Shanghai. Even off the beaten path, it's easier to find an $8 beer than an inexpensive meal. Shanghai's prices are consistent with those you'd see in a major international city... because it is a major international city.
Of course, while Shanghai doesn't feel third world, you can quickly find differences between it and other, more developed cities.
We'd found our way to an underground market. Well, it was really more of a labyrinth, nestled below the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum. The market was fully underground and spanned hundreds of stalls.
"Is this bag authentic?" I asked a saleswoman.
"It's designed like the original," she responded with a sly grin.
I knew the answer to my question before I asked. But her nuanced use of English in answering was better than I expected.
Within a few minutes of arriving at the market, a salesman ushered us into the "secret room."
We walked through two hidden – and locked – doors. He assured us that this is where they kept the "quality merchandise." No joke.
The goods were clearly not authentic. But they were darn good quality. I'd heard about these markets and was curious to look them over myself. The "secret room" was definitely an experience you won't find in New York City.
That was a major takeaway from this recent trip. China is nothing like America... But it's also nothing like what Americans expect it to be.
Shanghai has the same hustle and bustle of any major western city. And there are plenty of folks living there who have achieved a lifestyle that was unthinkable a few decades ago.
My trip to Shanghai reminded me that just about everything Americans think they know about China is wrong.
China is one of the most remarkable growth stories in history... And it's a market that smart investors would do well to keep an eye on.
Good investing,
Brett Eversole

Further Reading:

"China's growth has been crazy," Steve Sjuggerud wrote before another recent trip to China. "I wouldn't rule out that its economy could overtake – even double – the U.S. economy by 2050." Read more here.
Steve sees more opportunity in China ahead. Learn why he thinks you need to get your money there before other investors do, right here: Why Hundreds of Billions of Dollars Will Flow Into China's Stock Market.

Market Notes


Today, we're reminded once again why buying the "basics" works...
Regular readers know you don't have to take big risks to generate huge returns in the stock market. You can make a fortune in businesses that sell "boring" staples like cigarettes and the items in your medicine cabinet. These companies enjoy steady demand... And there's little chance that the next big fad will make their products obsolete.
One of the best examples is Constellation Brands (STZ). The $30 billion company is the No. 1 premium wine producer in the U.S. It's also the country's No. 1 beer importer. Constellation's portfolio includes more than 100 different brands, such as Robert Mondavi wine and Corona beer.
As you can see in the chart below, shares are up nearly 700% since the beginning of 2012... and just reached a new all-time high last week. It's the latest proof that it pays to stick to the basics...

premium teaser

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