Ireland Opens Hong Kong Consulate

Ireland Opens Hong Kong ConsulateOn Sept. 18, an Irish cabinet member will open the country's first consulate-general in Hong Kong, both a reminder of the deep Irish historical footprint in the city and a sign of the country's booming relationship with China. Richard Bruton, Minister of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, and Financial Secretary John Tsang is to open the…

Hong Kong Taxis Uber Alles

Hong Kong Taxis Uber AllesThe arrest of drivers working for the Uber taxi app operation in Hong Kong is further evidence of the grip that monopolists and oligopolists have on the territory’s government. Uber was initially welcomed by the authorities, with the government agency InvestHK, which encourages entrepreneurial investment, giving publicity to the local launch of the service.  However,…

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,…