China’s superrich are losing faith in the country’s economy, with some even worried it will turn into the next Venezuela

It's a scary time for China's wealthiest people.

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It’s a scary time for China’s wealthiest people.
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WANG ZHAO / AFP

  • China’s superrich are losing their faith in the country’s financial future as fears around the impacts of slowing global trade and slowing economic liberalization cause worry.
  • A new survey found that just over a third of China’s superrich described themselves as “very confident” about the future of the Chinese economy. That’s less than half the number who said the same two years ago.
  • Some rich citizens are even scared that China could end up following the same path as the once prosperous Venezuela, according to The New York Times.

China’s superrich are losing faith in the country’s financial future amid fears around the impacts of slowing global trade and slowing economic liberalization.

According to a paper published in January by Hurun Report, a Shanghai-based research firm, just over one-third of the superrich Chinese citizens in a survey described themselves as “very confident” about the future of the Chinese economy.

On the surface, that seems like a solid number, but it is startling when compared with the same survey two years ago, which showed that nearly two-thirds were very confident in China’s economic future. It is also the lowest number in the 15 years the survey has been produced, Hurun said.

The same survey from Hurun also found that the number of wealthy Chinese who had “no confidence at all” in China’s economic future had doubled from last year’s survey to 14%.

Hurun’s survey of 465 superrich Chinese citizens also found that almost half were considering emigrating or had already made moves to emigrate from China.

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Word of China’s wealthy elites losing faith in the future of China’s runaway economic success story comes with the country at a major crossroads of a trade dispute with the US and a general slowdown in growth.

China’s economic growth, while still very high by the standards of developed economies, is slowing. At the end of 2018, it expanded at its slowest year-on-year pace since the height of the Great Recession.

The Chinese economy grew by 6.6% over a year earlier, down from 2017’s 6.9%, official data suggested in January.

Not only is growth slowing, but many Chinese elites are said to be fearful that the economic liberalization that helped make China the second-largest economy on earth is stuttering.

A New York Times examination of the subject published in February suggested that some rich citizens were even scared that China could end up following the same path as the once prosperous Venezuela.

“Few are predicting a crash, but worries over China’s long-term prospects are growing,” The Times wrote. “Pessimism is so high, in fact, that some businesspeople are comparing China’s potential future to another country where the government seized control of the economy and didn’t ease up: Venezuela.”

The report did not provide any specific examples of business executives on the record expressing such fears.