The Sunday Twitter featured a HK$340 bottle of soda from CitySuper. (I believe the beverage is made from hibiscus. You can buy big bags of the flowers from dried goods stores, and make the same refreshing-if-rather-diuretic cranberry-like drink for pennies.) As with the HK$588 mango, you have to wonder who is buying these items, and why.
As if on cue, South China Morning Post columnist Peter Guy tells of a financier moving his family from Hong Kong to Taipei for a better quality of life, and mentions international schools charging HK$2 million debentures while delivering mediocre education.
Meanwhile, a property website has crunched its data to weigh up the pros and cons of buying versus renting a home in different Hong Kong districts. There are a lot of variables, but it essentially reflects rental yields or value for money by neighbourhood. By ‘value for money’, we mean ‘bad value for money’.
For example: the price I am getting after selling my old apartment in Soho is equivalent to 32 years’ rent at the nearby place I am currently in. Non-permanent residents, who have to pay additional tax, would in theory be nuts to buy at these prices. Yet they seem to be doing so. The guy behind the calculations sees three sort-of explanations. In increasing order of desperation: the buyers see significant upside; they are hedging against a declining Yuan; or they will be rewarded in terms of social status.
As well as over-priced groceries, rip-off private schools and nonsensical housing, the gullible rich (or panicky Mainland money-launderers) can fritter their money away on Hong Kong’s non-perishable luxury goods, milk powder, high-end/low-quality restaurants, private hospital services, and no doubt more.
Presumably, the price tags on luxury mangos, the school fees, the housing prices and the private hospital bills will spiral upwards and upwards for ever and ever. Even when a box of strawberries, a term at the local Harrow School franchise, a 400-sq-ft apartment, or a colonoscopy at Matilda costs 10 times, 50 times, 100 times, 500 times the exact same thing in Singapore, Taipei or wherever – the suckers with their Mainland hot money will continue to pour into this city, because they know of no other way. It is written in stone that this is a sustainable model. The Communist-elite perpetual cross-border money-laundering loophole-arbitrage economy is the future.
Which just leaves the problem of where do the Hongkongers go? Financial Secretary Paul Chan comes up with the answer – you vacate your hometown, abandon it to the unceasing flood of purchasers forever bidding up the prices of fruit, pseudo-British education, micro-apartments, and non-counterfeit kids’ vaccines, and self-deport to the Mainland where you can bask in the affordable hot springs of Enju.