Saturday, October 4, 2008

Financial Jitters

All my friends and relatives are talking about the $700 billion bailout package by the US government and wondering which banks will go under next.

Hong Kong being a financial powerhouse is starting to see the effects of high-powered bankers losing their jobs.

Many bars, restaurants and luxury brand shops are quieter, with fewer people dining out or shopping than before.

One of my friends doesn't think the shaky economic situation in the United States will impact Hong Kong too much, while others worry big banks here like HSBC aren't revealing what's really going on with their investments.

Tonight two of them told me about the panic they saw when they passed by the Bank of East Asia here. About a week ago there were rumours the bank was bankrupt and tens and thousands of people lined up at Hong Kong branches to get their money.

One saw a massive line along Caine Road in Mid-Levels, people with fear on their faces, while the bank stayed open as long as it could to service customers. Many of them complained bank staff didn't move fast enough, but it's not everyday tens of thousands of people want to withdraw all their money from their accounts.

There was a large sign on the bank branch's window saying the rumours were not true, even stating how much the bank had in assets, but that didn't calm anyone's worries.

Another told me how people lined up late into the night just to get a queuing number for the next day. Many withdrew millions of Hong Kong dollars from their accounts, which meant they dragged suitcases around with them to carry all that cash.

We agreed it was absurd, but also said if we had accounts with that bank, we'd do the same thing too.

The possible recession in the US and the instability of the banks have also made people here think twice about changing jobs -- and their bosses know it.

Which means employees are at their mercy to hold onto their jobs as they weather this upcoming financial storm.

Sounds like we're all going to have to hunker down and hope we don't get overworked and underpaid in the process too.

1 comment:

ks said...

When the U.S. sneezes the whole world wll have a cold. It is the effect of 911 and Osama bin Laden's revenge which he predicted correctly. Not only in Hong Kong the effect is also felt in Europe. It was just announced a rescue paln of 11 bn euros. It was a far cry from the 700bn in the U.S.