This article isn't going to answer the question. I've been struggling with stats and numbers for one month, trying to prove my intuition. But the more I was processing the data, the less it appeared clear. I've been knocked down by the statistic paradox of geography. So, please, make your own conclusion.
For the wealthiest ancient British colony, the United States, there is only one financial center, and that is New York. But with China becoming the biggest swing of capitalism history, where is the new center of the world economy?
The small-retroceded island with its forest of skyscrapers, its electricity consumption of 35,402 GWh, its pharaonic airport, is the lymphatic node of China. It's the third most densely populated areas in the world, with 6,254 people per km˛ (the actual record is owned by Macau with 20,824/km˛ and historical comparison can be drawn with Warsaw ghetto, 14,400/km˛).
HK's economy is so much dependent on international trade that when the stock market is gloomy the weather turns the same and people avoid going out at night.
The graph below depicts an index chronology for New York (^DJI), London (^FTSE), and Hong Kong (^HSI) markets.
In the 80's, the Hang Seng Index was relatively following the same type of evolution as its genitors, but something happened in the early 90's that made it becoming wild. Something in the matter of a collapsing wall.
The graph above is caricaturing the paradoxical aspect of global capitalism. The HSI is crazily emphasizing world events. When shit happens the HSI is overreacting, but at the same time nothing seems to tame it, always climbing back to new extremes. This is typically the kind of crazy Hong Kong loves. The city is full of stories of people who have made a killing in property, sometimes buying and selling properties within days. After being flattened by the Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998, the dot-com collapse of 2000, and the SARS epidemic of 2003, the real estate market is roaring back to life.
HK model is number one in economic freedom, slightly in front of Singapore. What does it mean? This controversial indicator relies on different factors, like corruption in the judiciary, non-tariff barriers to trade, fiscal burden of government, rule of law, efficiency within the judiciary, and the ability to enforce contracts, regulatory burdens on business, including health, safety, and environmental regulation, restrictions on banks regarding financial services, such as selling securities and insurance, labor market regulations, informal market activities, including corruption, smuggling, piracy of intellectual property rights, and the underground provision of labor and other services.
This might explain why HK tops the biggest foreign investment per capita. This indicator measures the value of all foreign direct investment per 1000 people, $3.30M, 8 times more than the US!
In such a financial idyll, many people forecast HK losing out to Shanghai, pulled apart in-between the eastern Tokyo and the western Singapore. But with a Renminbi remaining unconvertible, why China would build another financial center when HK can provide most of the services?
HK culture promotes the Cult of Work; hence this city is the busiest ever, just before Kuala Lumpur. But (again), at the same time it's the laziest and most bored place you can imagine. Competition and profit motive are encouraged by the market pressure and provide a spur for action. This frenetic appeal to act is a major factor in the diversification of services.
Hong Kong is such a schizophrenic society that it lacks of personal identity, is unable to differentiate between self (a city) and world (part of China) and is incapable of experiencing continuity through time (in Euler's sense)
Through the ubiquity of the media, the symbolic sequence bombarding citizen lambda during his daily routine in Hong Kong erodes his sense of temporal continuity. The images that flash across his retina are isolated, disconnected, discontinuous signifiers that fail to link up into a coherent sequence for the occidental issue. This postmodern editing disorients the subject and may contribute to annihilate his ego. The egolessness, the Dhyana, a mental state sought after in Asian meditation, which is also a characteristic of schizophrenia.
Another striking indicator is the territory's fertility rate, standing at an extraordinarily low 0.76, the lowest in the world. Late marriage, postponed childbearing and a growing number of women choosing not to marry combine to cause a continually falling birth rate that shows no sign of recovery. No other country in the world has ever experienced such a sudden decline. On the other extreme, the top-3 of the most fertile countries is owned by Somalia, Niger, and Afghanistan, all are Muslim countries declaring more than 6 children per woman.
All right, all those dead-end indicators don't really prove anything. The point here is; if capitalism is well understood in an Anglo-Saxon sphere which claims its paternity, it's still very controversial for the rest of the world. For most of us, we have to cope with such a various and rich cultural background that we are dazzled by its epiphenomenona. Apparent correlation in-between indicators (ex. schizophrenia/work load) can be seen as misunderstandings of local traditions. Capitalism is an hydra-headed creature routed in such a new social reality that we lack of straightforward statistics that could easily represent its real face.
Nevertheless, HK is definitely a disconcerting place on earth where synchrony in the apparent chaos may be rooted in the logic of Neumann
The Chinese math jazz starts to make light of weighty ideas.