The Stamp Market in China and Russia

The greatest strength in the stamp market right now are the stamp markets in China and Russia. These are emerging economies and the demand for stamps there is fierce. And though the demand in each market is essentially for home market stamps (that is the Chinese want Chinese stamps), there is also collateral strength that suggests that long term these two countries could be quite a boon to the international stamp market. The Russians in particular like British Commonwealth stamps and the Chinese are strong collectors of United States stamps and Thematics. Whether this popularity continues or not is dependent on several things. One of factors driving the popularity of collecting in these two countries is de facto currency controls. It is difficult or impossible for wealthy people to move money out of these countries, which is what many wealthy people do to hedge the political risks to their capital. Ever since the Third Reich prohibition on capital movements, stamps have been used as a hedge in this way. Further, both of these countries have long traditions of totalitarian governments that have expanded or destroyed capital at a single stroke and there is a tendency in such countries to place assets in less visible forms such as gold ,and even lighter, stamps. Whether this continues or expands as the middle class expands in these countries is unknown. But, beyond that, the differing traditions of collecting in each country can help us make a good guess of the long term health of philately in these two areas. The Soviet government encouraged philately. Every school had stamp clubs and the Russian Philatelic Federation, the national Russian stamp club, was the largest in the world. This bodes well for the long term collecting strength there. Not so China. Philately is very new there and the jury is still out on whether as many people will continue to collect when (and if )confidence in political structures becomes as high as it is in the West.

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