NatSec Law vs the Peg

Get ready for a Panda-tantrum of about – oh, 6 or 7 I guess – on the Richter Scale: concerted opposition to Hong Kong’s National Security law from every NGO you can think of, plus G7 foreign ministers.

The venerable Jerry Cohen expands on his post of yesterday in the Diplomat. He even mentions a sort-of bright side to Beijing’s plan to station its security agents in the city…

Some sophisticated defenders of this momentous change argue that it will improve upon the existing situation, where kidnappings or violent attacks by local thugs occasionally take place in clandestine cooperation with mainland secret police.

It all sounds like good news for hedge fund boss (and arguably wacko) Kyle Bass, who is shorting the Hong Kong Dollar in no uncertain terms. It is a 200-times leveraged bet in which investors will lose everything if the peg holds – but stand to make a 64-fold gain if the currency drops 40% against the USD in the next 18 months.

There are reasons to be skeptical. The HK Monetary Authority has in the past heaped scorn (without uttering his name) on Bass’s flawed understanding of the peg, notably his confusion about the amount of reserves at the HKMA’s disposal. It also rejects his claims that banks here are headed for a crisis, pointing to one of the world’s highest capital adequacy ratios.

Hong Kong authorities also say Beijing has pledged additional support for the currency if it really proves necessary. (Of course, you might wonder why – for the first time ever, I think – they feel a need to announce such a confidence-booster.)

Reasons to think Bass can succeed in creating a self-fulfilling prophecy are pretty thin. It is no secret that some ultra-rich local families discreetly moved cash out of the HKD last year – and many ordinary middle-class folk have done the same since Beijing announced the National Security law. But this is a drop in the bucket. As it happens, the HKMA is currently more occupied with excess inflows of funds.

The National Security law might kill Hong Kong as an autonomous and free society. But it doesn’t follow that it will break the peg (heck – it doesn’t even weaken housing prices much). A more likely way for Bass to win his bet would be through a Mainland, rather than purely Hong Kong, mega-crisis.

And that – if we see the National Security push as a symptom of panic in Beijing – points to a reason for the prudent among us to move cash out of HKD.

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16 Responses to NatSec Law vs the Peg

  1. asiaseen says:

    Wih the dire predictions of extradition to be included in NIL, is Beijing aiming for a March of Four Million in HK?

  2. Probably says:

    In the first line do you mean the ‘Richter Scale’ or is it a clever play on words for a piece about currency speculation?

  3. Reactor #4 says:

    According to his Wikipedia page, Kyle Bass is a highly suspect financial adviser. It probably does’t help that his world-view is shaped by an almost comical political dogma. Indeed when it comes to money matters, I’d argue you’d be better off listening to either Kylie Minogue or Kylie Jenner. Moreover, if you lost money you could still check out some of their internet images and spend 3-4 minutes blowing out some tadpoles (unless you were super weird, I suspect you’d struggle to do that with Mr Bass).

  4. dimuendo says:

    In the last few days, people have commented on gwailos based on the mainland supporting the national security laws (as if they have a realistic choice if “asked”).

    I do not have the skills to provide the link on my phone, but see the RTHK interview with/article about Allan Zeman.

    All is correct with the mainland, because have improved peoples lives. Strong government needed, to avoid dissent . (What is wrong with dissent, Mr Zeman?). Young people in HK mislead. Just need houses and jobs and all be fine. Ignoring issue of where houses and jobs coming from the individual is either a hypocrite of the highest order or simply deluded
    And no, he does not have to open his mouth.

  5. Zhu Rongji says:

    Beijing did promise to support the HKD peg in the past – in 1998, when George Soros attacked the currency, Prime Minister Zhou Rongji said China would support Hong Kong at all cost.

  6. Red Dragon says:

    Dimuendo

    Did you mean this?

    There are tons of incidences of old Nosferatu talking shit on RTHK, something he’s been doing for years, but this is the most recent example of the genre that I can find.

    https://www.rthk.hk/radio/radio3/programme/money_talk/episode/689133

    Would you agree that the thought of Reactor#4 “blowing tadpoles” to images of Kylie Jenner is quite the most revolting thing ever? What a terminally sad bastard he is.

  7. dimuendo says:

    Red Dragon

    Now at (lack of) work – offers invited.

    The Zeman item is on the rthk app at 2020-06-17 HKT 16:48 or the following may work:

    https://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1532589-20200617.htm?archive_date=2020-06-17

    or copy and paste it. I searched on the English version of the RTHK website under “Allan Zeman Terrorism ” and it was about the fourth item listed.

    As for the Rectum #no, 4 he lives up to my ascribed name for him as all he does is talk shit (apologies for the language) and try to be offensive. Just an arsehole.

  8. Des Espoir says:

    All this talk of the “support” for the peg, and of the reserves the HKMA has to defend it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how it all works – it is NOT a “line in the sand” system whereby the HKMA controls it – it is effectively a self-stabilizing mechanism that (apart from the odd “smoothing” operation) requires no intervention by the HKMA to defend it – all brilliantly designed by the late Tony Latter and by John Greenwood. (This does incidentally beg the question of why the head of the HKMA gets paid about 5x what the head of the Fed gets, when he actually has very little to do… but then, that’s Hong Kong for you…)

  9. So, Revolting #4 finally admits to being a wanker – albeit a rather hasty one.

  10. Casira says:

    @Des Espoir: This is finance, if it is “a self-stabilizing mechanism” that is infallible, this basically means it’s gonna go bust one day or another in ways we cannot fathom today.

  11. Reactor #4 says:

    @dimuendo.
    The reality is that for most people in HK their lives are probably better than for any of their ancestors going all the way back to Great, Great, Great, Great Grandad blob who existed in those primordial swamps millions and billions of years ago (safe, some money, access to health care, comfortable etc.). Yet practically everyone who posts here moans, usually about the local government (basically a glorified town council), the police or the CCP. Our lives are not perfect, but they are not bad – certainly better than in many parts of the world. The thing is that the griping culture is now so ingrained, I guarantee that if we got democracy, you and many others would then spend your time banging on about something trivial like the fonts on the ballot papers. Why can’t we have Times Roman? That’s what the American’s use. In my view, a lot of entitled people in HK need to get some perspective. And then to chill.

  12. Reactor #4 says:

    @Bitch’s Privates.

    Is that the best you’ve got?

  13. Gromit says:

    Carrie Lam once again provides cause for concern and undermines confidence by opening her mouth. From The Guardian: ‘Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, said the law would “not be retroactive under normal circumstances”.’
    And we all know who will decide the definition of ‘normal’.

  14. dimuendo says:

    No.4

    I have some sympathy with what you say until 5sentences from.the end of your post responding to mine.

    However, you miss the point. ople btl Whether other people btl or meare entitled or not (and you might be surprised at my situation) the point is the vast majority of people objecting and demonstrating can in no way be regarded as “entitled”, particularly the youngsters.

    The young entitled join the DAB. Yesterday I received an election missive from sharp suited Horace Cheung of the DAB, written entirely in chinese save for his name. My son unfortunately but understandably maintains life is too short wasting part of his life to translate for me.

  15. Mark Bradley says:

    “The reality is that for most people in HK their lives are probably better than for any of their ancestors going all the way back to Great, Great, Great, Great Grandad blob who existed in those primordial swamps millions and billions of years ago (safe, some money, access to health care, comfortable etc.). Yet practically everyone who posts here moans, usually about the local government (basically a glorified town council), the police or the CCP. Our lives are not perfect, but they are not bad – certainly better than in many parts of the world. The thing is that the griping culture is now so ingrained, I guarantee that if we got democracy, you and many others would then spend your time banging on about something trivial like the fonts on the ballot papers. Why can’t we have Times Roman? That’s what the American’s use. In my view, a lot of entitled people in HK need to get some perspective. And then to chill.”

    Stop recycling your idiotic comments you twat. You’ve already used this one before a couple of months back.

  16. Mary Melville says:

    The election arrangements hoo haw is ridiculous. These are one off affairs not a weekly prayer meeting.
    Many elderly suffer from loneliness. For those living in nursing homes it provides a rare opportunity to have an outing. The disabled want to be integrated into society and not treated as outsiders.
    To stand in line with fellow citizens and feel the community spirit while bitching about our politicos and government is a benefit that far outweighs the momentary discomfort.
    Suggest those of us who are fit take along a folding stool that can be offered if needed.

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