HSBC threatened to leave Britain if they are regulated and taxed more – but it seems Hong Kong doesn’t want them.

HSBC Global footprint

HSBC recently warned that it was considering moving to Hong Kong in light of the ConDem government’s (albeit paltry) proposals to increase regulation and levy more taxes.

Now: the Coalition’s levies and pseudo-regulations are of course a big tragic joke. The punchline is that the City acts as if this is Cuba in 1961.

Nonetheless, HSBC were not going to wait around to be told what to do by their millionaire fellow travelers. No, as far as HSBC bankers are concerned, when the going get’s tough the tough ‘redomicile’- to Hong Kong.

This is of course the ultimate capitalist threat-gesture: if you make our life difficult with your pernickety ‘taxation’ and ‘regulation’, we’ll just move. Deal with that, commies!

Only there was one teeny little problem. Hong Kong didn’t want them. Their ruling class may be rampant capitalists, but they’re not mugs! HSBC is just too risky for their system to take.

According to Martin Wheatley, chief executive of the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission:

“The question is, do you want to have something that big on your doorstep? For a place with a relatively small GDP compared to the size of HSBC, you have to ask if you want to have that risk in your system.”

As a result Hong Kong asked the question and the answer came back promptly: er, no- we don’t want your risk. Thanks but no banks.

So capital flight is perhaps not the giant ogre of economic discipline that it is presented as by scurrilous capitalist types.

It reminds me of a quote I heard at a recent Coalition of Resistance meeting : “If the City wants to leave, good riddance: but they can check their bags at the door.”

Dan Poulton

Dan is a writer, broadcaster and campaigner.  His most recent documentary was The New Scramble For Africa and his documentaries have appeared regularly on the Islam Channel. He is an organiser for Counterfire and a regular contributor to Counterfire site.