Why are the Chinese buying up golf courses and luxury planes?

The LA Times reported today that Chinese investors are buying up U.S. golf courses. In today’s daily briefing, Jeffy couldn’t help but point out how weird that story sounded, and Glenn thinks it’s just another sign of the U.S.’s decline as a world power.

The L.A. Times wrote:

Du and other wealthy Chinese investors are quickly adding golf courses to their growing portfolios of U.S. holdings. In the last year, Chinese investors have bought prime properties including the 2,000-acre Sea Trail Golf Resort, built around three Sunset Beach, N.C., courses, along with smaller ones, such as Rancho Duarte Golf Club, a nine-hole, par-31 course built on a former dump in the San Gabriel Valley.

“We’re seeing a lot of tires getting kicked by the Chinese,” said broker Jeffrey Woolson in Carlsbad, managing director for golf and resorts at real estate services giant CBRE Group Inc. “They only recently came forward and started buying. They do love golf, so it makes sense.”

In related news, Glenn pointed out that a recent article in Wired discussed how billionaires from China, Russia and the Middle East were buying up jets designed to hold hundreds of people and customizing them for private use.

Wired reports:

Commercial jet manufacturers have been replacing the rows of economy seats in their aircraft with sofas and entertainment centers since the late 1990s. A recent influx of billionaires from Russia, the Middle East, and China has led to a new focus on this part of the business. Since opening the private jet branch in 1997, Airbus has sold over 170 aircraft. Boeing got started in 1996, and has delivered on 195 of 217 total orders received.

The main reason to go with an Airbus A380 or a Boeing 747 over a puny Gulfstream or Bombardier? According a “Billionaires Study” commissioned by Airbus, the wealthiest among us like to travel with family members and business associates. (This, apparently, is particularly true for Middle Eastern oil magnates.)

Notice which country doesn’t have any billionaires on the list? The United States.

So two big leisure and luxury industries in the United States – golfing and private travel – are now seeing an influx from foreign countries?

“We are a nation and lifestyle absolutely on decline,” Glenn said. “The rest of the world is starting to have that kind of wealth. We’re on the decline.”

“We’re not going to be the leisure class for long.”