If you want to know whether Hong Kong's economy is on the upswing, all it takes is a 10-minute walk along the fabled Golden Mile in Tsim Sha Tsui.
During a brief stroll my wife and I were hit up by no fewer than a dozen weasels loitering on the sidewalk, leering as we drew near and then offering incredible bargains on knock-off watches and low-quality garments. At least half a dozen other hucksters missed the opportunity to harass us along that same stretch.
During the SARS outbreak one could walk that area unmolested: no tourists, why bother? But today, every few steps was another oily-looking flunky who whispered sweet nothings in my ear as I passed by:
"Hello Boss! Tailor? You need suit?"
"Copy watch? Copy Rolex?"
"Hey! Yes, you! I'm talking to you! Suit?"
My personal favourite is a new tactic, whereby said greaseball tells it like it is:
When there's money to be made, the hawkers swarm like ants at a picnic. Judging by the pests I saw, the cash must be coming into Hong Kong by the boat load.
The government should call this phenomenon the Golden Mile Indicator.