We've written plenty about how the unrest rattling Hojng Kong hash shaken up its economy and threatened one of its most important industries - tourism - while millions of savers have seen the values of their homes decline, a trend that could seriously threaten the region's financial system.
Earlier in the summer, we mapped out how both middle class and wealthy Hong Kongers are looking in several places as potential escape routes if living and working in Hong Kong simply becomes too difficult to sustain.
Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore - these are some of the places Hong Kongers tired of the unrest and worried about a further crackdown by Beijing are eyeing. But while contingency plans are being drawn up, according to Bloomberg, few Hong Kongers have actually started utilizing their newly-developed ratlines, though that might change after some of the worst violence since the demonstrations started unfolded over the past week.
The heads of UBS, Credit Suisse and Standard Chartered said during interviews at the New Economy Forum in Beijing that Hong Kongers are mostly trying to wait out the violence, as far as they can tell. Goldman Sachs, meanwhile, isn’t seeing any change of behavior among major financial clients, but still "the situation needs to be resolved" soon, said CEO David Solomon.
As we've written about, so far, Hong Kong's tourism is on track to take a 20% dive this year, and the drop has already surpassed the SARS outbreak of 2003 in severity. The economy of the former British colony is taking a beating, with retailers, restaurants and hotels cutting wages or letting staff go for fear of not surviving the downturn.
Many worry that if tensions continue to mount, it could hurt Hong Kong's financial industry.
"We’ve seen clients open accounts in Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan, in that order," said Standard Chartered CEO Bill Winters during and interview with BBG. "But while the accounts were set up, not a lot of money has actually moved. We’re not seeing a crescendo." Similarly, UBS Chief Sergio Ermotti said the Swiss bank has seen clients "activating contingency plans."
Even bankers haven't been able to avoid job losses. Many are now looking abroad for jobs as some have been assaulted by protesters and accidentally mistaken for protesters by police. A Citigroup investment banker was detained by police last week, while a JPM employee was punched outside the company’s main Hong Kong offices last month.
Politics have also become a distraction for all. At Standard Charted the directive is clear, said CEO Bill Winters: "You leave your politics at home because we’re here to work."
Anonymous has hacked into various Chinese websites and databases dumping files from government employee data to corporate data including user names, mobile phone numbers, email addresses, passwords for databases, IP addresses and more. It is all a part of what the collective is calling #OpHongKong and they vow these actions will continue until Hongkongers’ demands are met and Hong Kong is free.
Dozens of People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers were spotted on the streets of Hong Kong's Kowloon Tong neighborhood on Saturday afternoon, cleaning up bricks and roadblocks left behind by pro-democracy protestors, according to broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK).
The ongoing Hong Kong protests aren't going to end anytime soon, but the government keeps throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks. While US corporate entities are busy exchanging their spines for Chinese market share, those actually on the front lines are standing up for Hong Kong protesters.
Just when the Hong Kong protests finally appeared to be slipping from the front page (having been supplanted by other even more violent protest movements in Iraq and elsewhere) an explosion of violence over the weekend has Beijing once again threatening a crackdown on the protest movement that is now entering month No. 6, according to Reuters.
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