Things around here will be on-and-off over the next couple of weeks as I prepare for and undergo the torment of moving house. Not going far! But still a pain.
A couple of things left over from last week…
A fuzzy-sounding headline urges ‘Before tourism resumes, mend ties with mainland visitors’, which suggests we need to lay out an extra-plush welcome mat for the hordes of tourists that will, one day, inundate Hong Kong once more. But the op-ed is full of common sense on avoiding a repeat of the days when the city was swamped with 50 million cross-border smugglers every year, and crowding and retail rents went through the roof. (How about a 50% sales tax on designer-label luxuries crap?)
Will the government allow that to happen again? On the one hand, it makes landlords rich/pushes up land valuations, and it promotes the sacred cause of ‘integration’. On the other hand, it is guaranteed to renew hostility against Mainlanders. There are reasons to assume that officials will stick to their old ways of thinking (the word is that the upcoming Policy Address will include more infrastructure splurges). But then, some things are changing radically.
Which brings us to the decision to cease teaching ‘rights and responsibilities, freedom, rule of law, social justice and democracy’ and scrap a module called ‘Upholding the Core Values of Our Society’ in Hong Kong schools’ civics classes.
The authorities introduced the ‘Life and Society’ curriculum in 2010, when everyone thought it was a good thing to encourage kids to discuss and understand social and economic – also known as ‘political’ – issues from a standpoint of pluralism and participation. Now we have an emphasis on ‘national security’, or ‘Eradicating the Core Values of Our Society’.
Some worthwhile (or heavy) background reading for CCP Congress fans…
Minxin Pei on how Xi Jinping has abandoned the old rules.
And Geremie Barmé – part 1 of China’s Highly Consequential Political Silly Season.
On bigger issues – Russell Napier, formerly of CLSA in Hong Kong, sees Western economies returning to the 1940s-70s pattern of inflating debt away. Live long enough, and it happens all over again…
I think we’ll see consumer price inflation settling into a range between 4 and 6%. Without the energy shock, we would probably be there now. Why 4 to 6%? Because it has to be a level that the government can get away with. Financial repression means stealing money from savers and old people slowly.
…[central banks] are impotent. This is a shift of power that cannot be underestimated.
…Financial repression moves wealth from savers to debtors, and from old to young people. It will allow a lot of investment directed into things that people care about. Just imagine what will happen when we decide to break free from our one-sided addiction of having pretty much everything we consume produced in China.