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The thoughts of an American expat in Hong Kong living on an "underlying island"

A question from outgoing LegCo member David Li concerning mainlanders buying property in Hong Kong produced the answer you'd expect from the HK SAR government's Eva Cheng.

Since it has all along been the Government's policy to safeguard the free flow of capital within, into and out of Hong Kong, the Administration has no plan to require buyers of residential property to declare information about their origin. The Administration has also not conducted any study and forecast on the impact on or the outlook of the property market arising from Mainland people purchasing properties in Hong Kong.

As I've said elsewhere the true third rail of Hong Kong politics is laundering mainland money. There must be some heavy hitters in the mainland government to ensure that no one in the HK government snoops too closely in to the money transiting HK.

That said, the Government has always been mindful of the ramifications that wild fluctuations in property prices would have on overall macroeconomic and financial stability.
...{blah blah blah policies}...
with a view to ensuring the healthy and stable development of the property market.

In other words, the HK SAR government wants to ensure that betting on HK property is a win-only proposition, a safe investment with government blah blah blah policies in place to ensure your investment doesn't go underwater. Investors love government guaranteed winning.

And finally the HK SAR government throws up the usual obfuscation to avoid blaming their political masters in Beijing.

Nonetheless, as the major advanced economies are likely to maintain an ultra-loose monetary policy for a prolonged period, the resultant low interest rates and abundant liquidity could easily drive the property market to an exuberant state again when the external environment shows even a slight improvement.

As this analysis at Also Sprach Analyst of what drives HK property prices shows, it's the growth in money supply. Classic Milton Friedman monetarism. Excess liquidity chasing after too few investment assets produces asset inflation and bubbles. Of course the zombie conventional wisdom is always ultra-loose monetary policy in major advanced economies. But check out the actual data as provided again by Also Sprach Analyst and we can see that the announcement of the US' QE2 produced a huge spike in the growth in HK's monetary supply, while the actual implementation of QE2 several months later produced a slowing decline. While it would be impossible to ascertain the actual origin of the money growth due to recalcitrance on the part of the HK government and HK Monetary Authority, it's pretty clear that the driver of HK's property market has been a mind-boggling growth of the money supply on the mainland. Up until the last few months, the mainland's M2 would leave Ben Bernanke's jaw on the floor and has left a pile of unpayable loans that will require a clean-up that will make TARP look like a drop in the bucket.

So given the obvious data that shows the current and future HK government's policies on housing to be addressing sideshows of land supply rather than the actual economic drivers of money flows and policies designed to make housing a sure investment bet, 5 years from now HK will still be fucked.