A mind-boggling 40% of Hongkongers want to emigrate overseas because of the escalating social unrest that is expected to trigger an imminent recession in the coming quarters.
The new study, published by the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, asked 707 individuals by phone in late September if they would leave the city because of the turmoil. More than 42% answered yes, which is up from 34% last December.
Of those who were asked, 23% of respondents said they've already started emergency plans to leave. Some of those plans include getting out of housing leases, selling their homes and cars, and packing up their possessions, ahead of a move to a foreign city.
The study was published on Thursday, and university researchers said political chaos was the most significant factor in triggering an emergency move for respondents.
The largest two factors for respondents planning to move were "too much political dispute or social cleavage" (27.9%) and "no democracy in Hong Kong" (21.5%).
About 20% of the respondents had no confidence in China and Hong Kong to fix the overcrowded living conditions.
Hong Kong was already in an economic rout, which started in late 2017.
The increasingly violent anti-government protests from June have likely triggered the city's first recession since the global financial crisis -- this could also crash housing prices.
Protestors have brought luxury hotels, shopping districts, neighborhood stores, restaurants, and tourist-centric districts to a virtual standstill.
Hong Kong's GDP contracted in 2Q19, and 3Q will likely contract as economic data is crashing.
The Government of Hong Kong has been unsuccessful in containing the protests, as well as troughing economic growth through various stimulus packages in 2019.
"I do not expect to see any strong measures that can instantaneously turn things around," said Dong Chen, senior Asia economist with Pictet Wealth Management, one of a growing chorus of experts predicting Hong Kong had a second straight quarterly contraction in the three months through September. "The best scenario is after this political unrest they can come up with longer-term planning or measures to solve structural problems."
Economists believe growth in the city will slip below 1% in 2019.
JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s bear case for the city is about .30%, the weakest full-year GDP reading in a decade.
The social and economic chaos has sparked a downturn in Hong Kong's equities and real estate markets.
It seems that Hongkongers, as per the study, are overwhelmingly packing their bags as it appears an economic collapse in the city could be imminent.
And judging by the surge in local bitcoin trading volumes, capital is leaking out fast, with bodies to follow...
Is the implosion of Hong Kong what triggers the next global economic crisis?