‘Disputes in HK’, and other absurd predictions

It’s hard to imagine, but – if the South China Morning Post’s soothsaying sources are correct – the imminent Horse Year could see Hong Kong people being bad-tempered; Chief Executive CY Lung having problems (or at least he ‘might’); and the city troubled by something called ‘disputes’, whatever they are, but only in April. If feng-shui masters and astrologers stuck their necks out any further, it would be the Year of the Giraffe.

What else can we predict?

With the international markets suffering US tapering/Turkish Lira/etc death-spiral mayhem right now, could this be the year the Big Lychee’s property bubble finally pops, or at least starts making a hard-to-ignore hissing sound? It won’t happen in isolation, so the question is: what would set it off? Capital flight from emerging markets as the US recovers? Wealth destruction everywhere as the US recovery is revealed as a hoax and the dollar collapses? Panic following Asian Financial Crisis Part II as the Southeast Asian and Mainland credit bubbles go boom?

If I had to guess – there is no point in gracing anything on this subject with the word ‘forecast’ – we will all muddle through. Sit tight, look after what you have, consider ‘buying opportunities’ with great care, and relax while contemplating the gentle hissing in the background. Be thankful for the Gung Hei and don’t get too worked up about the Faat Choi. One interesting thing to watch will be Beijing’s contortions in trying to sort out its shadow banking mess, if only as a metaphor for the Chinese leadership’s entire existential quandary: one-party rule versus the princelings’ stolen wealth.

Whither Hong Kong’s constitutional reform? There’s a seriously asymmetric game of chicken going on between the pro-democrats and the Chinese government. The pro-dems’ threats of Occupy Central and vetoing a reform bill are pretty hollow, but paranoid Beijing officials refuse to believe it. The result is a cycle of ever-hardening positions.

One leading establishment figure is (half-) openly and gloomily giving political reform a 70% chance of ultimately failing altogether. More likely, the pro-democrats’ destiny in Horse Year is to split between the Long Hairs who want the guided-democracy package to fail so we can all take to the streets, and the Ansons who proclaim a readiness to reject anything but full universal suffrage, but secretly could be flexible if Beijing makes the right noises. The only thing we can be 100% sure of is that Communist one-party regimes do not accommodate any real, potential or even theoretical independent source of political power, ever.

How many more Mainland shoppers can be crammed into Hong Kong before one of the seams bursts, and an ugly great hemorrhage of Yakult, milk powder, pink suitcases on wheels and Mandarin-speaking people with slightly odd hairstyles spews all over passing ships? Since Commerce and Economic Development Secretary Greg So’s recent pronouncement on welcoming a further 50 million visitors a year, everyone has been looking at maps and Google Street View, trying to work out exactly where we can fit them in. So does a very convincing imitation of a complete idiot, essentially promising to accommodate the 50 million extra people by providing the very facilities that will attract them here in the first place – when a five-year-old would know you just nail the damn door shut. An alternative explanation is that So is in fact a cunning genius, spreading panic and disbelief to give the government the ammunition it needs to put up the ‘Full’ sign.

OK: whatever else the Horse brings, this will very likely be the year that people’s patience with ‘tourism’ finally snaps, and our visionary leaders get the message.

I declare the new lunar year open.

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14 Responses to ‘Disputes in HK’, and other absurd predictions

  1. Joe Blow says:

    Greg So may be a cunt but he is not stupid: once the CY administration has completely derailed, Greg is going to need a job, and most likely with a property developer. So……………….

  2. Stephen says:

    Property – there will be hissing as the bubble deflates however all the property consultancies and banks are estimating a 15% fall and I’m sure they’ve got reams of data to back this up (finger in the air) but it sounds about right;

    The Hong Kong Government gets more unpopular as Raffy’s Hui conviction proves (as if Timothy Tong wasn’t enough) that the HK Government top officials are rotten to the core as well as being inept (See John Tsang). But CY soldiers on and Carrie again denies she going to run continuing to say she’s retiring to Britain with the rest of the Lams;

    The great democracy debates drags on the liaison office takes charge (again) and leans on the Democrat Party to split it from the Long Hairs and get some sort of package a chance of being passed thus avoiding an Occupy Central;

    Tourism – we are not going to get any help from the Government or the tycoons so it’s up to the populace to make our guests feel as utterly unwelcome as we can – no change there then;

  3. Joe Blow says:

    15% fall ?

    45%, more likely.

  4. Big Al says:

    … but other than that, everything’s peachy in the Big Lychee. Kung Hei Fat Choi to all, except the Secretary for the Environment – he can just fuck off.

  5. Gin Soaked Boy says:

    I suppose the whole dynamic could change if the dispute over some rocks in the ocean becames a bit more kinetic. The options are varied, but my money is on China and Japan going toe to toe.

  6. The Regulator says:

    Tuen Mun’s Century Gateway continues to be a most popular spot for PRC citizens to not just stock up in V City shops but to store same along with assorted plunder from the PRC, in a secure walk-in, sleep-in, cook-in 500 sq ft vault in Towers 6, 7 and 8 of Phase II right above. At a 30% premium before developer rebates, the price of a vault with restaurants and club-house la-de-da all 20 mins by coach from the PRC, is going in one direction only. Up. Big Time.

  7. Maugrim says:

    I think China will begin to tank, especially with regards to liquidity issues. Possible rate rises in the US in the medium term will both mean the brakes being applied to HK. Occupy Central will be masterfully played out for CNN and the BBC. Other than that, may I take this opportunity to wish Hemlock and fellow contributors a happy new year.

  8. reductio says:

    Can’t make my mind up about Fung Shui “masters”. Do the practitioners know it’s total BS or do they really believe it? Still is it any worse than Big John and his yearly economic forecasts?

  9. Grog says:

    Salient point Hemmers makes about the extra 50 million locusts. If we don’t build the facilities to accommodate them, they won’t come. Let’s hope Greg So chokes on the giant turd the Horse turns into his gaping mouth.

  10. Headache says:

    Don’t forget the polyester slacks.

  11. nulle says:

    if you want tourism to slow down, why not each one of us just head over to North Terriority and slit the throats of several PRC locusts once a day? Then HK would become a ghost town in days/weeks…

    If Occupy Central is successful, then state of emergency is declared by CY Leung, Article 23 activates and HK becomes a police state, PLA troops dressed as HK police comes across the border to suppress Occupy Central with any means necessary.


  12. PropertyDeveloper says:

    Property prices will either remain stabilised or crash 50-60% over a year or two.

    Violence will flare up in the New Territories but be quickly covered up.

    Maids from the Philiippines of non-Chinese ethnicity will be banned.

    The Chinese Empire will expand (down, up or sideways).

    The US will talk a lot but do nothing. The UK will support them. France will make a gesture for cultural freedom.

    Japan will try to befriend the Republic of China, but be rebuffed.

  13. @PropertyDeveloper: I don’t think even the Taiwanese refer to themselves as the Republic of China much any more.

  14. PropertyDeveloper says:

    PB., Agreed. But I wanted to counteract the insidious propaganda of “Chinese Taipei” (downgrading it to a mere city, on a par with Sansha — sounds familiar?) or “the island” (PCMP’s sneaky appellation, while no doubt thinking: renegade province).

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