Hong Kong’s Tsang Expects ‘Slightly Better’ Economy This Year

Hong Kong’s economy should perform “slightly better” in 2013 than last year, Financial Secretary John Tsang wrote in a blog post dated yesterday.

Mainland China’s economic growth is showing signs of accelerating while markets in Europe and the U.S. “seem to be more stabilized” than in 2012, Tsang wrote.

The remarks contrast with Tsang’s warning in November that Hong Kong’s trade-reliant economy may enter recession if its major partners show a loss of growth momentum or signs of contraction. The city’s gross domestic product will expand 3.7 percent this year, up from an expected 1.5 percent in 2012, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Tsang pledged in the post, published on the government’s website, to do more for the city’s middle class, especially the younger generation which is under “significant” pressure to pay housing mortgages and children’s education expenses.

Household debt in Hong Kong almost doubled to HK$1.21 trillion ($156 billion) last year from HK$662.8 billion in 1997, when the housing bubble in the city burst, according to a statement from the city’s monetary authority on Feb. 4. Mortgage loans of households jumped 64 percent to HK$888.9 billion during the period, while credit card and personal loans increased almost three-fold to HK$320.1 billion, the data show.

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