As China prepares to ring in the Year of the Horse, celebrations are expected to be more frugal than previous years as a high-profile austerity and anti-graft campaign gains momentum. Ben Marino reports from Beijing
Rolling it out or rolling it up?
It is not what you would expect from upwardly-mobile and status-conscious China. But a vogue among Chinese hotels for dropping a star from their hard-won “five star” ratings appears to be catching on.
Xinhuanet, website of China’s official Xinhua news agency, quoted Chen Miaolin, vice president of the China Tourism Association, as saying that 56 five-star hotels pledged to downgrade to a four-star rating last year. In addition, a significant number of newly-built hotels delayed their filings for a five-star rating.
Modesty, it appears, is not the prime motivation for the trend.
It’s that time of the year again where visitors to China are deafened by firecrackers, mobbed by mass ranks of red-capped tourists, and overcharged for, well, everything. The year of the slippery snake is drawing to a close, the year of the galloping (and in 2014, wooden) horse is upon us.
But it’s also when CLSA gets one of its analysts to use their feng shui compass to figure whether this year’s qi will be good or bad news for investors.
Every year, China stages the largest human migration on earth as up to 1bn people go home to their roots. The FT’s Patti Waldmeir reports on the phenomenal combined buying power of China’s 260m migrant workers and looks at the type of gifts they are buying this year.
China gets a bad rap for lacking creativity. The conventional wisdom, especially among frustrated multinational personnel managers, is that it’s hard to find recruits in China who can “think outside the box” (though those who complain about that defect always use exactly the same phrase about the box, raising questions about their own ability to complain creatively).
But if they scan Chinese newspapers at this time of year – the run-up to Lunar New Year, which triggers the earth’s biggest human migration – they can find plenty of stories of Chinese exercising their ingenuity on the problem of how to get home to mama’s for the holidays.
If you believe in precedent, the Chinese Year of the Snake which begins this weekend could be very bad for your portfolio.
As broker CLSA says in a report, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index has dropped in four out of the five last Snake years. Worse, Snake years are often marked by shocks, such as the Russian revolution (1917), the Great Depression (1929) and the Twin Towers attack (2001).
But brokers don’t make their living by being gloomy. So CLSA finds reasons why 2013-14 will be different: it’s all down to the basic energies.