The growing burden on he who pays the piper

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 December, 2010, 12:00am

In the US, figuring out the cost of the gifts listed in the carol has become a lighthearted indicator of the economy. The tradition was started by the chief economist at PNC bank in 1984. He decided it would be interesting to figure out the true cost of Christmas by adding up the cost of all the gifts. Back then the total price tag was US$12,673.56 (HK$98,538).

The PNC Christmas Price Index has climbed steadily, reaching US$23,439 this year, up 9.2 per cent over last year.

'This year's jump in the PNC CPI can be attributed to rising gold commodity prices, represented by the Five Gold Rings which went up by 30 per cent, in addition to higher costs for wages and benefits impacting some entertainers,' said James Dunigan, of PNC Wealth Management.

The Hong Kong total of HK$371,080 that we arrived at is more than double that of PNC's HK$182,250, mainly because of the difficulty in matching like-for-like and different labour costs.

Ravi Kanasamoorthe, of talent agency, says the shortage of entertainers in Hong Kong meant they would charge more. The eight maids also cost a lot more at HK$700 an hour for a minimum of four hours, compared to HK$450 for an hour in the US, while the pipers at HK$16,500 here, are slightly less than their US counterparts at HK$18,310.