Old whine

The latest opinion poll shows Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s confidence rating has fallen to an unprecedentedly dismal 9%. If you’re wondering how she manages even that – who are these 9%? – bear in mind that this is approaching what statisticians call ‘the Lizard-man constant’.

The annual Budget ritual takes place today. With the plague-ridden city in flames around him, Financial Secretary Paul Chan will insist that the HK$1 trillion-plus fiscal reserves must be conserved for a rainy day. And we can predict that he either will or won’t give everyone a few thousand bucks as a special treat, and be despised mightily for it either way. Then there will be the usual one-off handouts for the usual ‘sectors’, including subsidies for tourism and retail operators – cash that, in practice, will end up ensuring that landlords’ sky-high rents get paid for another month or two.

Bloomberg notes that the Hong Kong stock market is at its lowest compared with global counterparts, especially the Mainland market, since 2004. As the reports says, the Mainland market is more retail- than institution-driven. We could add that it is also artificially propped up by official edict. In addition, other markets round the world (like the US) are probably relatively more over-valued. Most of all, the Hang Seng Index no longer reflects Hong Kong’s domestic economy: most of its components are Mainland giants or other companies with most of their operations outside this one city. Gone are the days when it was full of quaint local companies like Lane Crawford and Wharf.

Still, even if it has little direct relation to stock-market valuations…

“Hong Kong has a rather unbalanced economy, which relies heavily on sectors like retail and tourism that will be hit hard by the virus due to less mainland visitors,” said Ronald Wan … of Partners Capital International Ltd.

If I could destroy one branch of Louis Vuitton or Burberry for every time I read that…

No – the Hong Kong economy does not ‘rely’ on retail and tourism. It would be more accurate to say it ‘depends’ on them, in the sense that an addict cannot handle life without easy relief from a daily fix. It would be even more accurate to reverse it and say ‘retail and tourism rely on Hong Kong’. Now replace ‘retail and tourism’ with ‘high rents and landlords’, and the picture becomes totally clear. These are parasites.

Paul Chan will now roll up your sleeve and let them start sucking away.

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13 Responses to Old whine

  1. old git says:

    The main point to any Budget in HK is found, always, in Appendix A to the Speech: unfunded liabilities for civil service pensions.

    In 2015, the present value of unfunded pension liabilities was HKD815 billion and that figure ain’t dropped since then: it’s gone up.

    So any Budget handouts are, yes, only ever going to be susceptible to being re-cycled via tax to top-up the surplus and protect civil service pensions.

  2. Spud says:

    I thought all the Govt. fiscal reserves were reserved for Civil Service pension liabilities?

  3. Joe Blow says:

    Today it’s 28 Celsius in sunny Tin Shui Wai. Lemme see, how much cold beer can I buy with 10k ?

  4. Reactor #4 says:

    SCMP: “11:44 – Rule of law: Chan says he will earmark about HK$450 million for the Department of Justice for a project called “Vision 2030 for Rule of Law”, aimed at strengthening the community’s understanding of the concept of the rule of law and its implementation.”

    Excellent, if only for the angst it will cause many. Plus I am HK$10,000 up.

  5. Anna G Ram says:

    Paul Chan Budget

    Is an anagram of

    Bung placated, uh?

    The letters never lie.

  6. dimuendo says:

    One of the supposedly distinguishing factors of Hong Kong is “rule of law”. How can that be exercised with the courts shut, seemingly indefinity?

  7. dimuendo says:

    distinguishing features..

    I hate auto correct

  8. Des Espoir says:

    and Carrie is STILL trying to ram her Lantau Tomorrow Vision down our throats…

  9. mumphLT says:

    …did you see how many new police and police vehicles we are getting? We soon will have our own policeman…

  10. Bagesty says:

    While $10k extra in my pocket is certainly good news, it seems I have to wait a while to claim it… It says here… February 2021. WHAT THE FUDGE?

  11. caractacus says:

    $10,000 is less than one months wage for a laid off construction worker, cleaner, retail worker. We don’t really expect an arrogant, unrepresentative, unaccountable clique of appointed officials to reform policy so govt doesn’t exist only to placate the super wealthy parasites and CCP thugs, do we?

  12. Stanley Lieber says:

    @caractacus

    $10,000 is less than one day’s pay for Paul Chan Mo-fo.

  13. Hong Kong Hibernian says:

    The further militarization of the HK PoPo is a wonderful thing to behold!

    Aren’t we looking forward to seeing tactical PoPo drones flying low in tight formation as they use the newest Facial Recognition algorithm to scan for any misfits who would dare to question Commander Carrie?

    Does the militarization of PoPo forces create more violent “officers” regardless of crime rates, or does it cause the general population to act more violently against a faceless figure dressed in battle fatigues?

    Also, did the new budget discussions include provisions for the drug testing of NETs working in local schools? Perhaps not. (The EdB might be advised to actually run background checks from the NETs’ home country. Parents here in Hong Kong probably believe that this is already being done!)

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