- Rabobank: “We Now Have A US Dollar Weapon Countdown Underway”
by Michael Every of Rabobank, https://www.zerohedge.com/
Yesterday US President Trump officially removed Hong Kong’s US special status, with few extra details that we didn’t already know other than that HK passports are no longer any more welcome than Chinese ones in the US, and that Fulbright scholarships are ended. Markets have kept shrugging that news off, as have HK bankers: “Mo wentai” has been the mantra (“No Problem”). They weren’t rattled by the imposition of the new national security law; they weren’t rattled yesterday by Beijing stating pro-democratic/localist forces in Hong Kong could be breaking that law in trying to win a majority in September’s election; yet, according to Bloomberg, now that Beijing has just imposed its own taxation on its overseas citizens, “Bankers Shocked by 45% China Tax Rate Mull Leaving Hong Kong”. This rather makes the point about how it’s hits to people’s pockets that really moves the Cold War dial nowadays, not grandiloquent statements like “Ich bin ein Berliner”.
On that front, Trump also signed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act. Simply, this law gives Treasury up to 90 days to compile a list of those who are responsible for undermining HK autonomy; then up to 60 days to verify; and then sanctions must be imposed on them – something the US is already doing over Xinjiang. Then, a year after that date, any non-US banks with “significant transactions” with those individuals or institutions must see five of 10 possible sanctions imposed, which includes banning executives from entering the US, for example; and a further year later this *must* be expanded to all 10 – including inability to access the USD. In short, as has been pointed out here several times of late, we now have a US Dollar Weapon countdown underway, just as we do with Hard Brexit. It might be some way off at best, but it’s clear where it ends up.
Talking of where things end up, if pro-democracy Hong Kongers leave for the UK and the US, and mainland talent goes back to cheaper China, who is going to be left to “run the shop? Meanwhile, the New York Times has decided it is going to move part of its operations from Hong Kong to Seoul.