Hong Kong: End of HSBC myth?

Yesterday (March 9) HSBC Holding, Europe's biggest bank, and an Elephant in Hong Kong Hang Seng Index plunged 24% to HK$33, its lowest level since 1995. Since the beginning of financial crisis, many Hong Kong people believe that the city will not be hit directly by the tsunami (partly because of China factor). However, as HSBC has been viewed as the foundation of Hong Kong's economy, the plunge to HK$33, is a hard hit to people's confidence.

A cable TV economic news commentator could not help shedding tear when the price was down to HK$33 during the auction period in the last minute before the market closed. The clip was circulated widely via youtube and becomes a hot topic today:

Those Were the days blogs a number of phone conversations on HSBC:


I got the call from A in the morning, he said HSBC's stock price performed poorly, but still hold on to HK$38. In this level, he had already lost one third of his HSBC investment, if it kept on falling, he was not sure whether he should take up the rights issue.

When HSBC plunged to HK$33:


B said the plunge to such level is not only an individual corporate problem. This is a matter of Hong Kong people's confidence: Hong Kong people in general believe that even the whole world falls, HSBC won't fall. That's why in the past few month, whenever HSBC was in a critical stage, individual stock holder will buy in to keep its stock from falling. HSBC and individual stock holders’ lives are connected.


Coffee time with C. With the stock price at HK$33, he had lost two third of his investment still he planned to take up the rights issue. However, his two children are studying in U.K and Cananda and he once planned to retire in 8-10 year time by living on interest from HSBC and Hang Sang bank. Now, his hope is gone and he has to face the cash flow problem because of the rights issue. He has decided to cut his consumption, including his trip in Easter holiday.


Then it comes a religious phone call. He believes that soon after the government demolished the star ferry pier, HSBC's stock price keeps falling. It is obvious that the Star Ferry Pier has destroyed HSBC's fengshui. For the sake of Hong Kong and individual stock holder, he demanded the government to rebuild the star ferry to its original site…

Mimi has not been affected by the crisis but pointed out that Hong Kong people should learn from Buddha's teaching:

數十年來, 匯豐控股 的股票 在港人心中是現金的代名詞, 是派息保障的同意詞, 是保障中的保障, 穩定中的穩定, 昨日一日暴挫十元五角, 跌至33元, 股評主持人當場淚洒機前, 整個港島一遍哀聲. 老咪在賺了點小錢的情況下,一早已出了匯控, 手上的幾十股碎股, 也從來沒放在心上, 只當散錢, 留給兒子無妨, 但多少香港人受惠於父輩, 靠匯豐股息讀書, 甚至過日子.

For a few decade, Hong Kong people valued HSBC's stock like cash and it guaranteed high interest return. Stable and secured. Yesterday, it plunged HK$10.5 to HK$33, no wonder stock commentator shed tear in front of the camera and the whole island mourned for the tragedy. I have already sold out all my HSBC and made a small profit long ago. Now I only has some odd lot at hand and I don't care about them. Can leave it to my son. However, many Hong Kong people have been benefited from their parent's investment on HSBC, depending on its interest for school fee and daily expenses.

以前看這樣的老友, 會贊他福氣, 但私下會想: 這就是人的生存方程式? 今時今日, 再三思考此問, 惊覺, 此海嘯來勢猛烈, 明顯就是沖著我們自覺成功的生存方式而來, 所有我們過往以為的, 了解的, 信任的人, 機構, 甚至體系, 在這次大的沖擊下變得不了解, 甚至無法信任. 一切所為何事? 老咪不想說服任何人, 只想告知自己: 這世界是想讓我們知道:
一切有為法, 如作夢幻泡影, 如露也如電, 應作如是觀. (金剛經)

In the past, when I came across these friends, I would praise them for their good luck but will also wonder if that's the way to live. Now, I reflect upon the same question and feel that this tsunami is a challenge to the successful people. In the past, we thought we know, and we believe in certain people, institutions and systems. With this crisis, we find ourselves don't know and not able to trust anymore. What are all these thing for? I don't want to convince anyone, but I tell myself the world want to let us know:

Ev'rything which derives from karma
are just like a dream, a mirage, a bubble, a reflection,
a drop of dew or a lightning flash,
which is a way a man of insight should take. (translation from zftrans)

Today, HSBC's stock price bounced back to about HK$38 and Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited Securities and Futures Commission is reviewing the last minute auction arrangement before market close.


Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.