Sunday, July 25, 2010

The consumer is alive and well

At least in Asia that is. In spite of all the negativity being produced in America and Western Europe, the global credit crisis has been something of a non-event in Asia. In fact, it has been a trivial thing compared to the Asian crisis in 1997 and SARS in 2003.

Three pieces of anecdotal evidence:

1. wine: prices for en primeur wine reached record levels this year. Prices for older vintages have also advanced - a lot. Unfortunately, many of the wines I would once have liked to buy for personal consumption have now reached the point were it is impossible to justify purchasing with a view to drinking them. This would not have happened if not for the Asian driven demand.

2. air tickets: prices for air tickets (especially in business class) have continued to rise. Also, availability in any class is not always a given, especially around peak holiday periods and for some of the more popular flights into China.

3. consumer discretionary: if the queues for the ipad (released in Hong Kong on Friday) were not evidence enough, the results from retail chains in Hong Kong and China have been impressive. A reflection of the rise of the middle class and their confidence in the future (worried people spend less, not more).

4. real estate: residential real estate prices continue to rise in Hong Kong and in China (in spite of cooling off measures in China) as people use their rising incomes to upgrade their homes.

While the world is still an interconnected place, the arguments for their being at least a degree of economic independence from America are looking stronger by the day.


Devil's Advocate said...

Well this is where a lot money is coming from. Maybe it is time to cash out of some flats while the day is at its brightest.

traineeinvestor said...

Quite possibly the smart thing to do is to sell a flat or two while the market is good. The problem is that i have little confidence in cash as anything other than a very short term place to hold money - it earns nothing and the cost of living keeps rising. The Forbes Cost of Living well index seems to go up by around 6% a year and there has been at least one reports showing that the average cost of living increase of American retirees has been around double the rate of inflation in recent years. I can't afford to hold cash for very long.

For now, I have gone half way and decided not to buy any more HK residential property for the time being. Which begs the question of where I invest? If interest rates rise, I will start paying off the mortgages early but with my average interest rate still below 1% that does not make a lot of sense either.