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China’s one percent feels the squeeze

China’s one percent feels the squeeze

It’s been a rough year for China’s one percent. Just yesterday Reuters reported that demand for Chinese luxury brands — down of late — is unlikely to rebound after Beijing imposed a "frugal working style" on government employees in an effort to curb conspicuous consumption (read conspicuous corruption.) Now the Financial Times is reporting (behind the paywall) that the number of US dollar billionaires in China fell last year for the first time in seven years:

In its annual report on China’s super-wealthy, released on Monday, Hurun [Rich List] said China had 251 people worth $1bn or more, down 20 from last year but still sharply up from 2006, when there were just 15…Nearly half of the 1,000 richest people in China saw their wealth shrink in the past year, 37 of them by more than 50 per cent. The average wealth of the top 1,000 also fell 9 per cent to $860m, at a time when growth in the Chinese economy has also decelerated, the property market has declined and the stock market has fallen sharply. Chinese GDP growth hit a three-year low of 7.6 per cent year on year in the second quarter of this year.

Reduced Chinese demand for luxury cars has also forced Toyota to scale back the production of Lexus cars for export to China. With the economic outlook so grim, there’s no telling what could be next — party officials might even be forced to think twice about buying Porsches for their kids!