A recent Bloomberg View column described Hong Kong as "a case study in the flaws of one brand of capitalism." What brand of capitalism? "Finance-driven capitalism," the column says, or "laissez-faire" and "the Anglo- Saxon economic model," explaining that "The free-market crowd adores the city for its low taxes, unrestricted entry of foreign capital and rule of law." The column goes on to complain about income inequality, asserting, "suddenly, it's not much fun being Hong Kong."
A friend in Hong Kong responded to my query about the column with a wire explaining that Hong Kong's problems, such as they are, aren't the result of free-market laissez-faire, but of government interference. Until a year or two ago, Hong Kong had no minimum wage. Now that there is one, there are reports that it is pushing some people, especially the elderly or mentally disabled, out of work. On top of that, the government basically owns all the land, and charges private parties "rent" to stay on those areas where development is allowed. Some might argue this is no different from property taxes in America, but in certain subtle and important ways it is different.
One gets the sense that the Bloomberg column isn't really so much about Hong Kong as about the Bloomberg columnist's pre-existing and seemingly negative opinions of "the free-market crowd."