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Boom and Bust?

A Bloomberg report today highlights several forthcoming auctions in Hong Kong which will test the market for highly traded (and highly expensive) first growths, which should be of particular interest as a follow-on from my post late last week, China Coughs, Bordeaux Trembles?.

Hong Kong has become a wine hotspot in recent years, primarily consequent upon the abolition of a previously hefty tax on wine sales. Several major auction houses now have a presence there, and forthcoming events include auctions by Acker, Merrall & Condit, Sotheby’s and Zachys. Last year, report Guy Collins and Frederik Balfour, the pre-Chinese New Year sales netted over $34 million, but projections for this year are already way down at $23 million. Of course, that all depends on the quantity and quality of the lots on offer, but I think it very likely that this more restrained outlook is largely due to falling wine values, as revealed by the recently published Liv-ex 100 data for the end of 2011 (see post linked above).

It will be interesting to see if the fall is universal, suggested tightening belts and closed wallets, or if there is a swing away from Bordeaux (the sales include large formats of Petrus and other frenzy-inducing delights) and towards Burgundy (DRC in particular features), suggesting evolving tastes and changing interests. I look forward to seeing the reports; not because I’m suddenly fascinated by wine and finance combined, but I’m certainly eager to learn of falling fine wine prices.

On a perhaps related issue, this story on the BBC news website is tangentially related. It notes that Barclays Capital have concluded that skyscraper construction appears to come in waves that precede periods of depression. Whether this is true or not I don’t know (surely there are skyscrapers being built all the time?) and the association may be rather weak, and of course a banking group might just be a tensy-weensy bit biased when it comes explaining why there is a global recession ongoing, but the article does note that of all the world’s tall buildings currently under construction, over half are in China, which has certainly seen a huge boom-time recently. And after the boom…comes what?

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