Good afternoon. A fresh new week, the week of CNY. We also have a new intern today, Mikaila Butt. This morning, Mr. Goh from the Malaysian Automotive Association dropped by for a courtesy call and policy chat.
Now let’s talk oranges, specifically Mandarin oranges. Every year, I joke about my take on the state of the economy by observing Mandarin oranges sale. I call it the “Mandarin Oranges Index”.
My observation so far for this CNY is people are not spending as much on Mandarin oranges. Sales are low. CNY cookies sales are also low. There could be a few explanations for this phenomenon.
First, this CNY is too close to the last school holidays, Christmas and New Year. Basically, the public may have already spent their savings on celebrations and holidays.
Second, there is a public health concern on influenza A, and over eating Mandarin oranges is apparently not a good idea, as most Chinese believe it is “heaty with wet poison” (sorry, that’s the best translation I can conjure for Cantonese “sap tuk”).
Third, the level of confidence in the economy and politics, is overall low. The GDP may hit above 4% for 2019 but the perception or mood is not good. This is my qualitative observation. The prevalent thinking is to save money, which is not good for our economy because the economy depends largely on the power of domestic consumption. FDI and DDI are broadly somewhat stuck due to political uncertainties.
On a personal level, I have so far bought one box of oranges. I received as a gift, one box from the Taipei Cultural and Economic Office and another box from my architect friend Bobby. As a consumer, I bought in total 6 boxes of oranges last year. This year, I intend to just buy two or three.