Mahjong has become the latest "extravagance" to be condemned in censorious official Chinese media, as pleasure-seeking Communist Party officials are urged to shun the game in the name of curbing corruption.
Chinese people have been clacking mahjong tiles for more than a century, with some accounts even naming its inventor as the ancient sage Confucius. But officials have taken their hobby too far, according to a commentary in the People's Daily Tuesday.
"The phenomenon of Communist officials going to rural retreats to have fun, play mahjong and poker... must resolutely stop," the commentary said, referring to the widespread practice of betting on games "to add a little stimulation".
The article called for an equally "resolute" end to government staff "spending public money to visit historical sites in the name of 'study', and then simply going to any old fun place".
The commentary was the latest in a series of state-issued broadsides against official extravagance, as China's President Xi Jinping attempts to improve the Communist party's image in response to widespread anger over endemic corruption.
The campaign has led to an unprecedented investigation into retired security czar Zhou Yongkang, though the vast majority of officials punished since Xi came to power have been from the government's lowest levels.
The campaign against graft has been blamed for falling sales of luxury items, and hit business at expensive hotels and restaurants, according to reports.
Chinese officials are not obliged to disclose their financial assets, while China has jailed around a dozen activists who held small-scale street protests calling for such disclosure.
Despite claims linking it back to Confucius there is no consensus on the definitive origin of mahjong, a strategic game generally played with a set of 144 tiles, but many historians believe the modern game dates back to 19th century China.
The historical connection has done little for the Chinese national team, which has fared badly on the international circuit in recent years.
At this year's Open Mahjong Championship in Germany the highest-ranked Chinese player came in 30th, behind Japanese and European competitors, according to the state-run China Daily.
Some Chinese commented that their "shock at the news was no less than the Brazilians when they lost 1-7 to Germany at the semi-final of the World Cup," the newspaper added.
Users of China's social media services on Tuesday reacted to the mahjong ban with a mix of approval and bafflement. - AFP | Asia One
One of the gifts Santa brought our family this Christmas was the classic board game Monopoly. I hadn't played in 20 years, and as I hopped around the board and built houses on Marvin Gardens and Tennessee Avenue, I was struck by a couple of things:
First, bankrupting your wife and eight-year-old son sure is a lot of fun. And second, there are a lot of parallels between Monopoly and the real world of investing, which helps to explain why the game is still going strong 76 years after it was patented by an unemployed Philadelphia salesman named Charles Darrow.
So grab a token and shake those dice. Today we're going to look at what Monopoly can teach you about investing.
Take some risk
In Monopoly, it's tempting to sit on your cash. Cash gives you a feeling of security and keeps you from going bust. But if you don't invest in some real estate, utilities or railroads, you'll eventually lose. It's the same in the real world. After the financial crisis, frightened investors fell in love with cash and low-yielding bonds and GICs. As a result, they missed out on the powerful market rebound. You should be sensible, of course: Just as you shouldn't blow all of your money in Monopoly, you shouldn't put all of your savings into the stock market.
Get out of debt
It's fine owning high-end properties such as Boardwalk and Park Place, but if you have to mortgage them to stay liquid, they won't do you much good because you won't be allowed to collect rent. It's a lesson more people should take to heart. Many of the financially secure people I know have one trait in common: They abhor debt. They focused on paying off their mortgages early, and they prefer to save up for a new car or trip instead of borrowing the money. In addition to the financial benefits, having no debt gives them a sense of freedom.
Sometimes you get lousy rolls. You land on "Income Tax." You get sent to jail. The stock market is the same way. On any given day it can drop hundreds of points. Worse, bear markets can last months or even years, wearing down the patience of investors. The good news: Over the long run, the stock market rises, rewarding investors who buy and hold. You can't control your rolls in Monopoly, but by creating an investment plan that suits your goals and risk tolerance, you can increase the odds that you'll ride out the stock market's nasty surprises without panicking.
Capitalize on other people's misfortune
Sure, it sounds callous, but it's a tough world out there. In Monopoly, if one of your opponents is experiencing a cash crunch, it's the perfect time to make a low-ball bid for that property you need to complete a colour group. Similarly, one of the best times to buy stocks is when prices are plunging and other investors are getting hit with margin calls or dumping stocks in a panic. That's why it's important, in both Monopoly and life, to keep some cash on hand. You never know when someone will need your, um, help.
If someone quotes you an outrageously high price for a property you covet, it may be best to pass until a more attractive buying opportunity arises (see Lesson #4). The parallel in the investing world is a stock whose price is out of whack with the earnings the company generates, because speculative investors have driven it higher. By focusing instead on stocks with reasonable price-to-earnings multiples and avoiding those trading at lofty valuations, you'll be able to minimize disappointments that happen when expensive growth stocks come crashing back to earth.
Rather than spend all your money building hotels on one colour, it's better to spread your cash across several property groups. According to a detailed analysis on this website, you get the best return on your investment by building exactly three houses - no more, and no less - on each property you own. With investing, staying diversified is also critical: The more you spread your money around, the less likely that any one stock will drag down your portfolio. One big difference: In Monopoly, you can't buy the whole board, but with index funds you can buy the entire stock market.
Focus on dividends
In Monopoly, there is no greater joy than collecting rent when an opponent lands on one of your properties. Similarly with investing, nothing beats receiving a dividend cheque. That's why I'm a big fan of companies that pay dividends, particularly those with a track record of raising them. Whether you're playing with Monopoly money or investing the real thing, building a portfolio that pays you a steady, solid income is the key to success. Just remember not to yell too loudly as you count up your cash.
CARS AFAR: Five years after founding the annual Luxury & Supercar Weekend in Vancouver, Craig Stowe will fly to Hong Kong Nov. 3 and talk turkey about launching a similar program there. He’ll meet HK Tourism Board officials who wish to show locally owned cars under his title and organization in October or November, 2016. With that in view, Stowe will also confer with “owners of Lamborghinis, McLarens, Rolls-Royces, etc.,” of which Hong Kong has many.
“I’m excited,” Stowe said. “We brought the world here,” meaning the September runnings at VanDusen Botanical Garden, “and now we may export a Vancouver-based show to the world.”
That would include the weekend and previous days’ numerous side events, entertainment and concours d’elegance. Chaired by Nigel Matthews, the Hagerty Insurance marketing-and-sales director, the high-toned show’n’shine is judged to the same standards as Monterey Auto Week’s famed Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance that, running a fortnight earlier, sees some Californian entrants also compete in Vancouver.
Stowe said the 2015 Vancouver weekend’s featured makes will be Alfa Romeo, Ford Thunderbird and Rolls-Royce. Its traditional hypercar will be a $2.2-million Koenigsegg coupe from Sweden that, with 1,340 horsepower, may hit 440 km/h (273 mph). Local engineer-investor Robbie Dickson has ordered one, of course. -- by Malcolm Parry 2014 October 30 VANCOUVER SUN
Web series from Vancouver - Asian version of Kardashians?!
Rich Chinese are the focus of luxury car show in Vancouver
Vancouver is a city where the rich like to flaunt their wealth with expensive cars, and many of those extremely wealthy are now ethnic Chinese.
Many of those trophy cars were on show at the Luxury & Supercar Weekend at the picturesque Vancouver's Botanical Garden.
Among them were brands such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche and Maserati, and a red convertible valued at almost C$6 million (HK$42.7 million).
Show director Craig Stowe said Vancouver had more luxury cars per capita than any other market in North America.
"It's a beautiful, small city, with great roads and a lot of wealth. And with wealth comes appreciation of super cars and the more super cars you get on the road, the more super cars are bought," he said.
"For those who own a super car, it says you've arrived. It's a statement where you're expressing to people that you can afford to buy the very, very best."
The luxury car industry has expanded rapidly in Vancouver, coinciding with the rush of Chinese millionaires to the city. About 37,000 rich migrants moved to British Columbia from 2005 to 2012 under an immigrant investor programme, 66 per cent Chinese.
Vancouver, has strong ties to Asia, both in trade and investment. The 1980s and early 1990s saw a flood of money from Hong Kong and Taiwan from investors worried about political change.
Earlier this year, Steven Wu, brand manager and sales associate at Rolls-Royce Vancouver, said that the dealership had sold 66 cars since opening, with 43 of them being snapped up by enthusiastic Chinese or ethnically Chinese buyers.
Chris Petersen, the Lamborghini Vancouver business manager, said the vehicle's sales outlet in Vancouver had become the brand's second best-selling market among all locations in Canada and across the United States.
"The roads are quite decent and there's also an influx of people with money that have been moving here, want to retire here, just want to vacation here, especially in the summer because it is quite nice," Petersen said.
The three-day super-car show, which ended yesterday, has drawn many fans.
"It is only a dream for us to have such an expensive car. But it is better to have a dream than not, right?" said one young couple. -- 2014 September 8 SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
Vancouver is fast becoming Fat Cat City as luxury purchase opportunities pile up
Craig Stowe, president of Luxury & Supercar Weekend, proudly displays a $350,000 2015 McLaren 650S, right, and a black 2014 Lotus Evora — a mere $98,000 — on Wednesday at Oakridge Mall Galleria in Vancouver.
Photograph by: Mark van Manen , PNG
In a city where a million-dollar home doesn’t even raise an eyebrow, luxury condos and luxury goods go hand-in-hand.
Retail watchers say that those willing to pay the premium prices to live in much-loved Vancouver are also willing to pay out for premium products.
“Vancouver is a luxury city in itself, but it’s worth it,” says Lyndi Barrett, whose Vancouver-based online publication ‘Style Calling’ tracks fashion, beauty, trends and events.
“Vancouver draws a variety of people who appreciate the better things in life, and are willing to pay for them.”
And the world is watching.
Versace and Chanel are two of the world’s most sought-after brands, and both are about to open new outlets in Vancouver.
At Vancouver International Airport, a giant luxury outlet mall is under construction, offering designer goods to both local residents and the vast number of visitors who pass through the airport each year.
The British firm McArthurGlen chose Vancouver for its first foray into North America — it runs 20 luxury outlet malls in European cities including London, Rome and Milan — when the combination of affluent citizens, travellers and Asian proximity spelled success.
“It’s a great location for us,” said development director Joan Jove, who won’t discuss tenants for the Spring 2015 opening — but the firm’s European outlets include such top-of-the-line retailers as Prada, Armani, Burberry, Gucci, Hugo Boss, Ralph Lauren, and Michael Kors.
“It’s very conveniently located for everyone in the area, and also for tourists.
“The intention is to have a mix — mid-market, premium, and luxury brands.”
A new market to conquer
Jove sees three ways that air travellers might pay a visit — going to the airport, coming from the airport, or on layover between flights.
The Canada Line offers a short transit hop from downtown Vancouver hotels for the city’s many cruise and convention visitors.
Jove believes Vancouver is seeing a spike in top-name brands as the luxury firms search for new markets to conquer.
“I think these brands were focused on expanding in other markets — now they’ve turned their attention to Canada,” said Jove.
“It’s great for us — with more brands we can create a more exciting shopping experience.”
All those new brands have improved Vancouver’s brand, and the world is taking notice.
David Ian Gray, a retail strategist with DIG360 Consulting, said it’s kind of a high-powered game of keeping up with the Joneses — except in this case it’s keeping up with the Fendis and the Armanis.
“Vancouver has a lot of tourists and travellers who are high-wealth individuals, so it makes sense,” said Gray. “But a lot of them don’t even run the numbers — when the companies see their peers opening up here, they take notice.
“They’re saying, ‘If those guys are there, we definitely have to be there, too.’ ”
While Toronto may have more high-wealth individuals, Gray says, it’s so-called ‘old money’ that’s less inclined to splash out.
“Here we see the flashier new money,” said Gray. “They’re saying, ‘Hey, we’ve made it.’ ”
Among the most stylish
The New York-based fashion magazine Complex just named Vancouver’s Gastown the world’s fourth- most-stylish neighbourhood, keeping high-fashion company with New York’s SoHo, Tokyo’s Harajuku, and the First Arrondissement in Paris.
The edgy neighbourhood may once have been Vancouver’s skid row, but now the colourful assortment of local characters is seeing a new influx well-heeled consumers headed for upscale shops such as Haven, Roden Gray, and Secret Location — and, opening soon, Versace Home.
One person who has watched the transformation firsthand is Catherine Guadagnuolo, who’s celebrating her 29th year in Vancouver luxury retail by opening her eighth Vancouver location — high-end Pomellato jewelry.
Tourists, travellers, conventioneers, wealthy immigrants — Guadagnuolo has served them all at her Max Mara, Weekend by Max Mara, and Blubird locations.
Stylish, well-heeled Asians make up the majority of her business, as she’s watched wave after wave of wealthy immigrants from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and now China bring their buying power to Canada.
“The Asian women have an incredible appetite for what is new, what is happening,” said Guadagnuolo.
“They shop like it’s Christmas year-round.”
A recent study by the commercial real-estate firm CBRE found that 28 per cent of Vancouver’s retailers are international.
“I wouldn’t want to suggest the retailers are only targeting Asian tourists, but they are a big part of the market,” said Ross Moore, CBRE’s director of research for Canada.
“Retailers follow a herd mentality. If one of them opens in Vancouver, all of them want to be there.”
Better value than China
Guadagnuolo said while the wealthy may not shop around for price, designer goods are better value in Vancouver than China because of hefty import duties designed to protect domestic Chinese producers.
“People, at the end of the day, want something unique and want great service, which is why we’re successful.”
Guadagnuolo will take part in the upcoming Luxury & Supercar Weekend at VanDusen Botanical Garden, where $100 million worth of ultra-luxury goods will be on display.
From a exceedingly rare 1957 Maserati 200si (estimated value $6 million) to the largest outdoor fashion show in Vancouver, being a looky-loo at the super-luxe event won’t break the bank — it’s $50 to get in or $100 with dinner and beverages. (luxurysupercar.com for details)
And while most garden party visitors won’t be purchasing, high-end sales are definitely made.
“We attract affluent people, and they like luxury homes, luxury goods, luxury cars, and supercars,” said show president Craig Stowe. “There are more luxury and supercars per capita in Vancouver than anywhere else in Canada.”
Stowe expects connoisseurs from Vancouver, West Vancouver, Richmond, Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer.
And if you think the giant price tags means tire kickers but no buyers, think again.
“Last year McLaren came to our show,” said Stowe. “They sold six cars — and they start at $350,000.”
Those who want the latest and greatest — and have the bank account to pay for it — have any number of toys and status symbols to invest in.
In the car world, the blazingly fast and futuristic Bugatti Veyron will set you back a carbon-fibre fortune. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it, but since you asked, zooming around at 400 km/h will set you back $1.9 million; speeding tickets are extra.
If jewelled timepieces are your thing, Cartier will happily part you from your hard-earned $53,000 for a shimmering Ballon Blanc woman’s watch, a timeless piece in white gold and diamonds.
Men get a bit of a price break in the upper echelons of the high-end timepiece market. A Rolex Day-Date Automatic Champagne Roman Dial President Men’s Watch is only $26,995, and shipping is free!
For those who need to be the only one at the party with a certain particular dress, Leone will be happy to oblige with a one-of-a-kind $20,000 creation.
Everyone loves a fine hat, and at Hermes the top of the line goes for a very elegant $10,000.
Fendi handbags are all the rage among the must-have set, but you must have $5,300 to purchase a practical purse with pizzazz, the Peekaboo Large Felt and Shearling Tote Bag.
If you want to look your best before you wing off to Monaco or Dubai, pack your goods in a Zephyr 70 case from Louis Vuitton — after you leave behind $4,650 at the cashier.
Have a drink with that
And if all this high-priced talk means you need a very high-priced drink, you might consider splashing out $25,000 on an uber-exclusive Scotch malt whisky: Dalmore Constellation 1971 Cask 2, to be precise.
If you can wait a spell for your high-priced beverage, three bottles of an ultra-rare, collectible 60-year-old single malt Glenfarclas Scotch whisky are being offered at a special event Sept. 9 at the B.C. Liquor Store at 39th and Cambie, the only Canadian offering.
If you happen to have $19,888 burning a hole in your pocket, apparently you’ll be enchanted by “an incredibly dark, rich mahogany colour. The vibrant aromas of dried fruits, demerara sugar and spice come through on the nose combining with rich, oaky tannins in a lengthy finish that culminate in an exquisite, aged whisky.”
Whether you choose to drink your investment or save it with the idea of selling it for even more down the line, the packaging is apparently exquisite: “The cut-crystal decanter bottles are presented in custom designed, hexagonal boxes featuring the traditional shape of the Glenfarclas bottle.” -- 2014 August 28 PROVINCE
Asian Entrepreneurs Drawn to Anglosphere
According to September 14th article in the Financial Times, the U.S. remains a magnet for wealthy Asian entrepreneurs.
"The report, by Barclays Wealth, found that those who made their money in booming economies such as China still hoped to move to North America and Europe in search of stability and better business prospects."
"The UK has seen the number of non-domiciled multimillionaires rising 15.2% between 2011 and 2013, fuelling the London property market". -- 2014 September 14 FINANCIAL TIMES
BEIJING - Nearly half of China's super-wealthy individuals are considering leaving the country, a survey said Monday, with most citing better overseas educational and employment opportunities for their children. The global survey of 2,000 high net worth individuals by Barclays Wealth found that 47 percent of the wealthy Chinese who were questioned plan to move overseas within the next five years. The Chinese semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong is their preferred destination, cited by 30 percent of respondents, followed by Canada with 23 percent - although earlier this year Ottawa closed an immigrant investor visa scheme that had been popular among wealthy Chinese.
Wealth-X reveals 8 common myths about the super rich
The results show that "better educational and employment opportunities for their children is the main pull factor for Chinese high net worth individuals", according to the survey. China has seen double-digit economic expansion in recent decades but faces mounting uncertainty over its pace of growth. Its economic expansion has also come at great environmental cost - particularly in large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai - another factor among the country's super-wealthy in considering a move overseas. The survey also found that a significant share of Singapore's wealthy - 23 percent - plan a move abroad in the next five years, even as the city-state remains a top destination for Hong Kong's rich. In Hong Kong 16 percent of the wealthy said they plan to move, with 44 percent of these naming Singapore as their destination. Another 31 percent anticipated going to China. Around the world, a little over half - 57 percent - of super-rich individuals have only lived in one country, with 20 percent having lived in three or more. - ASIA ONE