Hong Kong brokers have been awoken by the phone ringing with a few buy orders from foreign fund managers in the past couple of days. With markets from Taipei to Jakarta going through the roof, some figure it might be time to reinvest a portion of the winnings in somnolent Hong Kong. Those who intend to park money here for a reasonable chunk of time presumably think the global economic recovery will lift even Hong Kong's leaking economic boat. But let us put things in perspective. There is not that much earnings excitement likely to be generated by Hong Kong blue chips. JCF Group puts this year's consensus growth expectations at 9.7 per cent, placing the Hang Seng Index on 16.7 times earnings. Funnily enough there is another market which has roughly similar numbers. It is expecting to post 9.6 per cent growth, putting it on 17.7 times earnings. This market is Britain. Therein lies Hong Kong's problem. Upside potential is nothing like the old property bubble days but all the risks are there and more. Why should an investor take a gamble on Hong Kong when he can get similar growth from a market considered a much safer bet? If an investor puts his money in Hong Kong, he is betting on the economy finally breaking free of three years of deflation, he is hoping record-high unemployment will stop rising and he is taking on the currency risk the dollar peg may be dismantled. Money going to British stocks buys companies with better corporate governance operating in a more stable environment. Hong Kong's consumers are saving pennies where they can, Britons have been spending freely, keeping the economy buoyant even through the global slowdown last year. 'What differentiates it from Hong Kong is that the economy is in pretty good shape. The UK has held up very well,' said Chris Murphy, a British growth fund manager with Framlington Investment Management. Hong Kong's property prices lost 9 per cent last year but British home-owners enjoyed 16 per cent growth. Behind the resilience is an increasing sophistication in the British economy which has moved up the value chain to become more services orientated. That has helped iron out some of the cyclical effects that go with manufacturing. Framlington's chief economist Jonathan Asante said: 'The key issue in the UK has been the consumer. The consumer has remained strong. Unemployment has been completely under control in this cycle. The UK isn't going to be growing 4 per cent, you are probably looking at 2.5 per cent. It's a more steady, defensive growth economy.' Steady and defensive probably also describes the market, with banks making up 20 per cent of the FTSE-100 Index, pharmaceuticals 10 per cent and oil companies 10 per cent. Framlington takes a jaundiced view of Hong Kong's closer links with the lower-cost China. Mr Asante said: 'It's a steady drip, drip of companies and resources away from Hong Kong to China. If you want to play a cyclical pick-up, you can play it with other markets.' Funnily enough in terms of year-to-date performance, Britain and Hong Kong are pretty close. The FTSE is down 2.09 per cent while the Hang Seng Index is up just 0.1 per cent. We need to see some radically improved numbers in Hong Kong before the local bulls look like they are doing anything more than talking up their own book.