It still works; consider China.
While some of this property development was fueled by starry-eyed speculators, a lot of this boom was financed through cold hard cash. Modern day Chinese are some of the thriftiest people on the planet, saving roughly 56% of their wages – which makes the seemingly stingy Japanese appear as spendthrifts. Guess what level America is still at?
For instance, due to a number of variables including a relatively uncertain political climate, many members of the nascent middle class will park their savings in entire floors. And I don't mean burying the money inside the walls. They will purchase an entire floor of office space rationalizing that in the long run, it could be safer store of value than many monetary instruments (e.g. stocks), or banks themselves. And unlike their Spanish and Dubai counterparts which have created partially built ghost towns (video), not only were most of these buildings funded without taking out foreign loans or utilizing debt-based financial vehicles, but until recently, tenants were required to put a down payment of 30% on a unit. It has now been knocked down to a miserly 20%.
Yes, that's right. The West is not only reeling in overcapacity brought on by numerous perverse factors (e.g., artificially low-interest rates), but millions of apartment and housing units are either going into foreclosure or already on the chop block due to lax lending standards that involved zero money down.
Yet in China, even with deflating property values that have dipped more than 40% from their peak, the construction boom continues marching on due to stronger fundamentals such as solvent customers that have real jobs.