Saturday, 25 October 2014

Re-Balancing the Economy

Protesters making lots of stools and picnic tables in Admiralty last night
Before Occupy Central was supposed to take place, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah warned it would cause serious damage to Hong Kong as an international financial centre, and how it would burnish the city's reputation.

Twenty-eight days later and Tsang has had to admit Hong Kong's economic situation and financial markets have remained stable -- and in fact the stock market beat every other developed market in the world this month.

While some sectors have been hit badly, such as transport, food and beverage, retail and tourism, a few landlords in Causeway Bay and Central have been more forgiving lately and lowered rents, some as much as 40 percent.

Drawing cartoon portraits for people
And most of the retail that's been hit are the high-end luxury brands that the vast majority of us -- as Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has pointed out this week -- can't afford -- so it doesn't affect us much really.

Tsang also said a few days ago that credit-card spending had plunged in major shopping areas like Causeway Bay. He did not give figures, but said the government was watching closely and again urged the protesters to leave the area.

Is the usage of credit cards another of his indications of those in the middle class, along with drinking coffee and watching French movies?

He did not indicate that perhaps more people were using cash in these areas instead, or that perhaps they aren't buying designer handbags, and eating foie gras, but purchasing camping gear and hardware supplies instead?

Can we add here the protesters are not entirely selfish -- In Causeway Bay there is a large map that protesters have drawn that encourages others to patronize local shops in the area so that they aren't hit too hard by the occupation.

So other than the cleaner air, community atmosphere and more face-to-face dialogue between people, can we also say the Umbrella Movement has actually helped re-balance the local economy?

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