A strange misstep

Bloomberg’s William Pesek has a very interesting piece on the disparity between global perceptions of Hong Kong as a free-market wonderland and the difficulty of locally educated professionals in finding work there (among other things). I know very little about China so I can’t really judge it other than to say that it’s an interesting take on a little-followed aspect of the China story.

That said, there is one strange statement that jumped out at me in this run:

The school system churns out well-trained young people, but Hong Kong’s job-creation machine is coming up short. True, unemployment is just 3.3 percent. But what does the average Hong Konger who can’t get a job at HSBC Holdings Plc or billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Cheung Kong Group do for work? Pouring concrete, driving a bus or selling Gucci sunglasses or Prada shoes to their wealthy mainland cousins is fine, but do these jobs fulfill Hong Kong’s promise as an economic Mecca?

Local leaders seem clueless about all this. Donald Tsang, Hong Kong’s chief executive, dismissed the wealth gap as a byproduct of capitalism. Economics 101 tells Tsang that he can no more ignore the fallout from growing inequality than residents can overlook their city’s worsening air quality.

Perhaps Mr. Pesek has not been in a university setting lately, but I can assure him – that is exactly what Economics 101 tells implies Tsang not only can do, but should.

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