Hong Kong’s broader economy doesn’t seem to have suffered any significant damage due to the Occupy protests, although the street blockades may have hurt some retailers, Apple Daily reported Tuesday.
Pro-establishment groups, businessmen and mainland media had earlier warned that the civil disobedience movement could derail Hong Kong’s economy, affect the stock and property markets and even lead to closure of some medium and small-sized firms.
Francis Lui, director of Economics department at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, had estimated that the Occupy movement could lead to a daily economic loss of HK$1.6 billion for Hong Kong. When the stock market fell at the launch of the movement, Lui warned of as much as HK$350 billion in wealth erosion.
However, recent economic data suggests that the dire warnings were off the mark, Apple Daily said.
It noted that Centa-City Leading Index, which reflects Hong Kong’s second-hand property prices, rose to 131.6 points in early December from 128.1 at the end of September, when the Occupy campaign began.
The Hang Seng index also climbed past the 24,000-points level three times during the movement, although it closed at 23,027 on Monday, down 650 points from Sept. 26.
In other data, retail sales in October were up 1.4 percent year-on-year. The Hong Kong Retail Management Association, meanwhile, said in a report that most of their member retailers recorded a single or even double-digit growth in turnover in November.
Tourism market was also little affected. The city received 5.21 million visitors in October, up 12.6 percent over the same month last year, with mainland visitor numbers going up 15.5 percent. Tourists merely switched to areas that were occupied by the protestors.
Economist Andy Kwan Cheuk Chiu was quoted as saying that Occupy had a short-term impact on economy due to traffic blockades, but it was absorbed by the market quickly. He said the movement will not dampen investor confidence in the short term, but could become a source of political instability in the long run.
However, the core factor behind instability will be Hong Kong government’s poor governance, and popular discontent stemming from wealth disparity and lack of political reforms, he added.
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