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Jargon watch: yellow economic cycle

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The yellow economic cycle has manifested itself as a positive boycott.

The anti ELAB protest movement in Hong Kong exposed the fracture lines between pro-Beijing (blue) and pro-Hong Kong sides (yellow). Some of Hong Kong business community came out and criticised the protestors. This resulted in consumers boycotting their business.


The classic example of this was when Annie Wu criticised Hong Kong protestors. Wu’s father James co-founded Maxim’s Caterers Limited. Maxim’s is has a wide range of restaurants for all budgets. It also owns bakeries, provides catering for universities and businesses. Maxim’s even has a joint venture with Starbucks. Starbucks coffee shops in Hong Kong and southern China are run by this joint venture called Coffee Concepts.

Mainland businesses, especially Chinese state-owned enterprises like China Mobile and Bank of China were defaced by protestors. McDonalds restaurants in Hong Kong and China are majority owned by CITIC – a Chinese state-owned investment company.

Garden Bakery

Garden Bakery’s Life bread ended up becoming a yellow brand by default when it was criticised by members of the Hong Kong Police. Hong Kong protestors rallied around and even brought along loaves to demonstrations.

#AnywhereButChina Challenge

Consumers bought everyday products that weren’t made in China and shared the product and its country of origin online. This becomes quite tricky as products from western brands like Wrigley chewing gum or pair of Nike sneakers could be made in China.

It’s particularly interesting as it raises questions about long term perception of quality. Back before the protests when I was living in Hong Kong LG and Samsung smartphones being sold advertised with pride that they were made in Korea. It was a similar story with high-end Sony TV sets. #AnywhereButChina channels China’s political and quality related issues in one meme.

Solidarity with their customers

Many small businesses in Hong Kong started to do what they could for their young customers. And the customers paid them back with loyalty. By trying spend their money only in yellow businesses and avoid blue ones by creating a yellow economic cycle.

Yellow economic circle

Online assets were created to point customers in the right direction. Here is one of the posters that have been circulating on Twitter. The use of QRcodes is much more common in east Asia than Europe. The code takes you through to a Google Maps overlay of Hong Kong featuring Yellow businesses which would be preferable to shop and eat at. Green businesses which are preferable to blue businesses. Blue businesses will be avoided wherever possible.

Reviews of yellow shops and restaurants on review sites like Open Rice have been poisoned by pro-government supporters placing bad reviews and protestors piling in to defend their yellow economic circle members. At its worst, even the most hardened Wikipedia editor would be daunted by the pitched battles going on.

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Jargon watch: truth decay

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Truth decay was a concept that I came across when reading Monocle’s Forecast issue.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump

Michael D Rich is the head of the The RAND Corporation – a not for profit think tank. When he was interviewed and described as being preoccupied with ‘truth decay’. Truth decay occurs when society and the body politic can’t even agree on basic facts.

  • Increasing disagreement about facts and analytical interpretations of facts and data
  • A blurring of the line between opinion and fact
  • The increasing relative volume and resulting influence of opinion and personal experience over fact
  • Declining trust in formerly respected sources of facts

Truth decay. One point that we’ve made over and over again is that no important problem can be solved in the US within the span of just a four-year presidency or a two-year Congress. And the way those problems have been surmounted in the past is consensus and compromise. That’s impossible if two sides can’t agree on the basic facts.

Thought Leaders – The Forecast 2020 Monocle magazine

All of this sounds like the rhetoric used to describe Vladislav Surkov and his work for the Russian government, or Dominic Cummings and Cambridge Analytica. The RAND Corporation is America’s foremost think tank. It spun out of Douglas Aircraft Corporation. From national security it expanded to social and economic areas. It now has its own grad school and nine different research facilities. It’s website is a good source of resources across a range of areas.

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Jargon watch: treasure hunt

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Treasure hunt as defined by NPD is the process of consumers bargain hunting. It might be discounted pricing on items or looking for substitute pre-owned products.


Discounted items used to be seen in the retail trade as the preserve of older consumers alongside couponing. But as empirical experience going along to discount outlets show bargain hunters reach across social classes, income levels and age groups. Discounted products accounted for 3 percent growth in retail, even while retail declined by 1 percent overall in the last quarter.

As for pre-owned goods, whilst NPD thinks that this is a millennial trait – vintage clothing stores, crate digging for records and and eBay are evidence that this trait isn’t new.

Admittedly the motivation that they are ascribing to vintage shopping by millennials and gen-z adds environmental aspects to vintage consumption. (Though is probably quality aspects as well as apparel globalisation and fast fashion have gone hand-in-hand in the demand for heirloom design).