For the past several years, China has been the hot place to gofor opportunity investors. All the major investment managers havelured institutional money into the emerging economic goliath. Nodoubt the arguments seem compelling for China continuing to growinto a dominant power over the next quarter century. Unprecedenteddevelopment builds out and modernizes the country's cities andentirely new urban areas mushroom as rural populations move toindustrial job sites. An evolving middle class moves into high riseapartments and shops in new shopping centers. Office buildings popup to accommodate commercial expansion and more hotels are neededfor all the offshore visitors -- business and tourist. Beijing getsa total facelift for the upcoming Olympics. The powers that be alsofund massive infrastructure projects -- a highway network, theequivalent of the US interstate system, has been built in just thepast decade; mass transit facilities, high speed rail lines, andstate-of-the-art airports start operations.

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But recent news out of China should make investors wonderwhether the growth track won't hit some bumps. Last week's pre-NewYear snow storm crippled the country. Several factory buildingscrumpled under the weight of snow, raising questions aboutconstruction quality. The government grudgingly admits it mighthave made a mistake with Three Gorges Dam and resultingenvironmental damage. Air and water pollution creates dangeroushealth conditions in much of the country -- about 50% of thecountry's vast population does not have potable water. The U.S.Olympic team will ship in food for its athletes, fearing that highsteroid levels in local meats could trigger doping failures.Marathoners worry about noxious Beijing air quality. Manufacturersmanage to ship overseas everything from tainted tooth paste tounsafe cancer drugs. Who knows what the locals are ingesting andbreathing. And more than 300 million Chinese are smokers. Oh,probably no surprise, the government runs the cigarette franchise.In short, it would be charitable to say the country seems to playfast and loose. You could wonder how transparent the growth numbersare and whether they are sustainable. I do.

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Add on: Talking about trends -- Will Hillary win anotherprimary? The Obama Mo steadily builds. She pins her hopes on"firewall" Ohio and Texas primaries in early March. But if Barackwins everything between now and then, as appears increasinglylikely, Mrs. Clinton may be dead in the water. Remember just beforeSouth Carolina three weeks ago, she had a 20% lead in some nationalpolls. Don't bet on the Dem decision going all the way to theconvention.

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© Miller Ryan LLC 2008

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Jonathan D. Miller

A marketing communication strategist who turned to real estate analysis, Jonathan D. Miller is a foremost interpreter of 21st citistate futures – cities and suburbs alike – seen through the lens of lifestyles and market realities. For more than 20 years (1992-2013), Miller authored Emerging Trends in Real Estate, the leading commercial real estate industry outlook report, published annually by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Land Institute (ULI). He has lectures frequently on trends in real estate, including the future of America's major 24-hour urban centers and sprawling suburbs. He also has been author of ULI’s annual forecasts on infrastructure and its What’s Next? series of forecasts. On a weekly basis, he writes the Trendczar blog for GlobeStreet.com, the real estate news website. Outside his published forecasting work, Miller is a prominent communications/institutional investor-marketing strategist and partner in Miller Ryan LLC, helping corporate clients develop and execute branding and communications programs. He led the re-branding of GMAC Commercial Mortgage to Capmark Financial Group Inc. and he was part of the management team that helped build Equitable Real Estate Investment Management, Inc. (subsequently Lend Lease Real Estate Investments, Inc.) into the leading real estate advisor to pension funds and other real institutional investors. He joined the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the U.S. in 1981, moving to Equitable Real Estate in 1984 as head of Corporate/Marketing Communications. In the 1980's he managed relations for several of the country's most prominent real estate developments including New York's Trump Tower and the Equitable Center. Earlier in his career, Miller was a reporter for Gannett Newspapers. He is a member of the Citistates Group and a board member of NYC Outward Bound Schools and the Center for Employment Opportunities.