Hong Kong, Singapore Headed for Economic Trouble

Hong Kong, Singapore Headed for Economic TroubleAsia’s two bellwether city-state economies, Hong Kong and Singapore, are both headed into recession. Singapore has already announced that second-quarter gross domestic product fell at an annualized rate of 4 percent over the previous quarter. Following an annualized 4 percent rise in the first quarter, this translates into near zero growth so far this year…

Hong Kong Property – No Place for the Faint-Hearted

Hong Kong Property – No Place for the Faint-HeartedHong Kong is experiencing yet another property bubble. But this one has arrived more by stealth, either because of a sudden burst of local euphoria or a surge of cash from the mainland. Indeed the soaring prices are happening despite the efforts of the government to restrict non-resident buying by imposing additional transaction costs.  Nonetheless,…

Asia: The Place to be for Market Punters

Asia: The Place to be for Market PuntersWhat are Asian stock markets telling us about the Asian outlook? Has performance over the past year reflected real prospects or just been the result of random influence and central bank manipulation? Are there bubbles among the top performers or buying opportunities at the bottom? There is of course one runaway winner: China. Despite falling…

Can HSBC Come Home Again?

Can HSBC Come Home Again?HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, is seeking to pivot back to its Asian roots in an effort to raise its return on equity. That goal has a cosy feel in the year the bank celebrates its 150th anniversary. The problem is that its roots are now actually more in British and western commerce in Asia than…

Where Does HSBC Go Next?

Where Does HSBC Go Next?Is HSBC a British bank? Or a Chinese bank? Or a bank drifting like flotsam on a global sea, driven by the ever-varying visions or pecuniary interests of its leaders? It is a question the bank, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, needs to answer if it is to survive at all rather…

Time For Local Currencies to Rise?

Time For Local Currencies to Rise?It's almost forgotten that most trade was denominated in locally based currencies right into the 20th century and beyond, although in at least one case, if the Hong Kong dollar, issued by HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank and Bank of China (HK), is included, it still is. The Hong Kong dollar is the 13th most heavily…

Hong Kong’s Misplaced Infrastructure Ambitions

Hong Kong’s Misplaced Infrastructure AmbitionsThere is no better illustration of Hong Kong’s diminishing autonomy than the fate of its airport. This is not an overtly political issue about democracy or the rule of law. It is a growing impediment to the commercial autonomy without which Hong Kong is simply a more scenic version of Shenzhen or Xiamen. It is…

A Tale of Two Budgets

A Tale of Two BudgetsThe gulf in quality of leadership at the top administrations between Singapore and Hong Kong was again illustrated this week by comparing the annual budget speeches of Tharman Shanmugaratnam in Singapore and John Tsang in Hong Kong. Tharman is internationally respected for his strong intellectual grasp of financial and economic issues. Tsang is a run-of-the-mill,…

Sunset for Hong Kong’s Oligarchs?

Sunset for Hong Kong’s Oligarchs?Last year, just prior to the beginning of the Occupy protests, a large group of Hong Kong’s elite, headed by the richest of them, Li Ka-shing, and former Chief Executive and second generation shipping tycoon C H Tung, were invited to Beijing for a face to face meeting with new President Xi Jinping. The meeting…

Hong Kong Safeguards its Ivory Traders

Hong Kong Safeguards its Ivory TradersRecent revelations of serious corruption at the highest levels in Hong Kong are increasing scrutiny of decisions taken by the bureaucracy that favor certain business interests. In the past, such decisions have been attributed to a belief ingrained in the civil service and fortified by the prestige of the city’s tycoons that Hong Kong was…