I think the Utopia story kind of missed the point. Can mobilization of that kind of capital be accomplished by one man? I don’t think so…the consultant with flagging optimism attributes the mall’s existence to a “local boy who made good,” but is that really the case here? I’m sure the Chinese government had as big a hand in the construction of the mall as it did in the purchase of the mall after the local boy made bad.
When I see that kind of over-production–China went from having no malls to having the world’s largest in the blink of an eye–I’m reminded of what a friend from the former Soviet Union told me to correct my notion that a life in the USSR was one of scarcity: Most certainly not, he said. We had lots of everything. Lots of clothes, shoes, plumbing fixtures, you name it. The problem was no one wanted to buy what we had a lot of.
The planners of Ordos and the mega-mall mis-matched consumption and production as badly as the Soviet planners did.
The mega-mall is by no means the first patch of highly-developed, empty real estate in China. Check out the spooky, modern ghost city of Ordos here.