The Chinese and Hong Kong stock markets have experienced a significant decline in recent years, wiping away nearly $6 trillion from their most recent peak three years ago. This market decline has also been tied to the overall economy’s decline and absence of recovery since the pandemic. The long-troubled property sector, which makes up at least a quarter of China’s economy, has also contributed to the market’s decline, leaving retail investors weary and with limited safe investment options. As a result, there is now a vicious cycle of poor economic performance fueling pessimistic sentiment, exacerbating the market decline.
The widespread pessimism felt by hair stylist Wu Ming, who trades Chinese stocks on his phone, reflects the sentiments of many average Chinese citizens who have direct exposure to the market. The decline in trading volumes and people’s growing conservative approach to money due to poor economic performance have further exacerbated the situation. Government attempts to limit short-selling and stimulate the market have done little to restore confidence, leaving investors and small businesses under significant financial strain. Regardless, the hope for a market turnaround remains bleak, as optimism draws ridicule and skepticism among Chinese retail investors.
This pessimistic outlook isn’t confined to just the financial markets, but also extends to people’s housing investments, jobs, and overall economic prospects. The market decline is deeply intertwined with various socio-economic factors, including the youth unemployment rate, which surpassed 20% in July and the ruinous decline in the property sector. As a result, a significant portion of the population is facing financial hardship and lacks confidence in the future. This has created a dire situation where Chinese citizens are struggling to find safe investment opportunities, leading to widespread economic uncertainty and a lack of optimism for the future.