Regina moves markets

Defying predictions that her days as a heavy hitter are over, Regina Ip manages to spark a brief spike in property stocks. In a Bloomberg interview, she sort-of implied that the government might be considering cutting extra stamp duty for Mainlanders with non-permanent status living in Hong Kong. The government quickly denies it, and Reg clarifies that it’s nothing official – just an idea being pushed by her ‘political’ party (more here).

Part of the confusion arises from Ip’s dual roles as a party leader dreaming up inane attention-grabbing ideas, and as a member (‘the Convenor’, if you please) of the supposedly advisory Executive Council who is bound to support government policy. The Standard criticism-by-shoeshine editorial says

[Ip] holds the distinction of being the first woman convener of Exco, and the first with political affiliation since Hong Kong returned to China.

But, to coin a phrase, with great power comes great responsibility.

As the leader of a body of advisers that helps the chief executive in policy making, Ip should know she speaks on behalf of the government – and not her party.

The ‘great power’ thing is a joke. In our top-down system – now with extra guidance from on high in Beijing – ExCo and its ‘Convenor’ play essentially ceremonial roles. But all the more reason to assume her words reflect government thinking.

The impact on developers’ share prices underlines how desperate the Hong Kong stock market is for some excitement. Apart from a few local property and financial companies, most of the big names are Mainland firms viewed with increasing caution by international investors, as the dismal performance of the Hang Seng Index shows.

The main thing is that cutting tax for Mainland property buyers sounds 100% believable. Ever since the late 1990s, Hong Kong administrations have taken every step imaginable to push up housing prices. Even the imposition of extra stamp duty for non-resident property-buyers 10 years ago seemed designed to have limited impact. With interest rates and emigration rising, current property valuations (US$1 million for a 500-sq-ft concrete box in Shatin) look more presumptuous than ever. The bureaucrats must be itching to start curbing supply and/or stimulating demand. What we don’t know is whether their Beijing overseers will let them. 

With most pro-democracy politicians in jail, Regina is just about the only non-boring public figure in town. You can see why Bloomberg interview her. Maybe just don’t take her so seriously next time.

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11 Responses to Regina moves markets

  1. Vidal Baboon says:

    Are her hairs taking on a life of their own and morphing back to the broomhead of yore?

  2. Mary Melville says:

    ‘The bureaucrats must be itching to start curbing supply and/or stimulating demand”.
    Curb supply before the number of vacant units becomes so many that it blows the ‘land for housing’ mantra used to bulldoze greenbelt, golf courses and country parks out of the water.
    When the Vacancy Tax proposal was floated in 2018 it was revealed that there were 200,000+ empty units. But under pressure from developers and Leggers in bed with them, this was canned.
    Common sense indicates that, with the additional production since then and the record number of folk fleeing the territory, the number has increased.
    Anyone in doubt should check out SHK North Point Victoria Harbour at night time. Yeah, that waterfront development where the only option to eat al fresco is to buy fish balls at the kiosk on the pier and try to find an empty pew, but I digress. Only three of the towers are partially occupied, the majority of the units and some entire blocks are empty.
    Requests for current data on the number of vacant units are ignored and the Vacancy Tax has been filed in the ‘Nice Try’ tray.
    So how to offload some of these units before Joe Public starts to question why some of the empty units are not taken over to house those in the PH queue? Bring in the Mainlanders. However their appetite for HK property will not be what it once was as it is now very clear that a HK ID is now no guarantee of property or civic rights so better invest elsewhere.

  3. Chinese Netizen says:

    – “Requests for current data on the number of vacant units are ignored”

    – “So how to offload some of these units before Joe Public starts to question why some of the empty units are not taken over to house those in the PH queue?”

    Both irrelevant as questioning any “sensitive” information by plebs is probably violation of NSL now.

    – “very clear that a HK ID is now no guarantee of property or civic rights so better invest elsewhere.”

    Curious to know how many mainlanders snatched up some prime Taiwan real estate back when the couple still had a cosy relationship?

  4. justsayin says:

    ‘with great power comes great responsibility’? I think the that particular coined phrase is heavily devalued these days

  5. Chris Maden says:

    Apropos of the Sub-Standard’s editorial, I believe Lady Lydia Dunn was the first female chairlady of ExCo. But that would have been in the colonial era, which doesn’t exist.

  6. ExCo Dames Dunn Wong says:

    @Chris Maden
    You’re right, but I think when Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire Lydia Dunn held the post, the title was ‘Senior Member’ / ‘ExCo Senior Unofficial Member’ so although it is of course entirely the same job, technically the Sub-Standard isn’t wrong in not counting her as the first woman convener of Exco.

    Sadly for the Sub-Standard and Vag however, even if you do claim that pedantic technicality, then the “the distinction of being the first woman convener of Exco” goes to the equally off-brand Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire Rosanna Tam Wong Yick-ming.

  7. If I published a collage showing the foreign minister of [country] saying “An old lady visited [name of island], so we had to blow up the 0cean”, followed by a picture of a warship firing over the water, would I be contravening the NSL? It’s so hard to know what’s allowed these days.

  8. wmjp says:

    @Private Beach
    Best be careful, the NIPs claim to read minds so simply thinking of such a collage can lead to jail.

  9. Hamantha says:

    “‘with great power comes great responsibility’? I think the that particular coined phrase is heavily devalued these days.”

    A phrase I say to myself when at restaurant, eyeing the dessert menu.

  10. reductio says:

    I think the correct quote is “With great power comes the great opportunity to rip-off the plebs, stash the cash in an off-shore juristinction, and grab the final private jet out when the country goes tits up.”

  11. Red Dragon says:

    And let us not forget that, unlike Dame Rosie, Dame Lydia (who, certain scoundrels scurrilously suggested, only married Michael Thomas because, by doing so, she and he would neutralise the dirt they had on each other) subsequently soared to greater heights by becoming “Baroness Dunn, of Hong Kong Island in Hong Kong and of Knightsbridge in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea”.

    Galling, really, for it makes me wonder what I might have achieved with a svelte frame, a Mainbocher twin-set, and the facility to lap-dance the most potent passing taipan.

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