Date
24 October 2017
Xi Jinping's antigraft plan, Hong Kong's property prices, ATV's cash flow problem and Occupy protests' economic impact are among the weird things in the Year of the Horse. Photo: HKEJ
Xi Jinping's antigraft plan, Hong Kong's property prices, ATV's cash flow problem and Occupy protests' economic impact are among the weird things in the Year of the Horse. Photo: HKEJ

Goodbye, Year of Horse and 7 weird things

The Year of the Horse has been far from normal, and various weird things happened at home and abroad.

(1) The biggest surprise is that President Xi Jinping has been so serious in his fight against corruption. The campaign has shown no sign of cooling down; instead, the crackdown has even gone further to spread to various levels of government officials and rippled into business as well.

Martin Lee Chu-ming, a founder of the Democratic Party, applauded Xi for showing substantial sincerity for reform. Many leaders have claimed to battle corruption, but nobody has taken it so seriously.

(2) The United States has stood out as the world’s best-performing economy. The US economy has been struggling after the financial crisis. However, it has taken the lead in global economic recovery, registering a 2.4 percent gain in gross domestic product growth in 2014. And the US economy is expected to rally further by 3 percent in 2015.

The US unemployment rate has fallen from nearly 10 percent in 2009 to 5.6 percent, and data from wages to full-time jobs and the population returning to the labor force is showing sign of improving.

(3) The property market in Hong Kong has become crazy. Hong Kong’s median home price is nearly 17 times the annual median household income, a survey of 360 cities by US-based consultancy Demographia found.

That exceeded the last peak level of 13 times annual household income in 1997. Hong Kong has retained its title of the most unaffordable city in the world for housing for the fourth straight year.

(4) Hanergy Thin Film Power Group Ltd. (0566.HK) has become a top choice for mainland investors who placed bets on H shares after the launch of Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect. Likewise, Kweichow Moutai Co. Ltd. (600519.CN) has been sought after by many foreign investors.

(5) Troubled Hong Kong broadcaster Asia Television Ltd. became a hot topic throughout the year. It has reduced program production and claimed 40 percent ratings. The broadcaster failed to pay its employees timely in mid-2014, and a full-scale financial crisis broke out late last year.

(6) Cemetery News, a new online media outlet that mocks the defunct House News, has become surprisingly hot. The Facebook page of Cemetery News quotes remarks from dead people, applying them to current affairs. Also, several other online media outlets, like SocRec, 100 Most and Mocking Jer, have attracted a great number of young followers.

(7) The most accurate forecast: Occupy Central won’t affect Hong Kong’s economy. The market once panicked about the potential impact of the movement, fearing it would hurt the property sector, stock prices and even the whole economy. However, various analyses make me believe the movement will have only a short-term impact on the economy.

This article appeard in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb. 18.

Translation by Julie Zhu

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JZ/JP/FL

Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist

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