In an earlier series of articles (Parts I, II and III can be found at the respective links) this blog set out the specific reasons why TBTF means TBTM. The troubles of HSBC in the US are a prime example of this maxim.
HSBC has been on a mission to be the “World’s Local Bank” and that sentiment is very proudly and profoundly expressed in its adverts—which by the way are very good. It is a pity that the same cannot be said for the bank.
In trying to achieve its global ambitions HSBC has had many missteps. In 2011, a subsidiary of HSBC was fined millions for selling products that had a minimum period of investment that was beyond the life expectancy of the pensioners they were sold to. The fact that the mis-selling went on for five whole years, from 2005 when HSBC acquired the company to 2010, speaks volumes about the bank’s ability to manage its affairs.
As distasteful as this was it pales in comparison to other HSBC missteps. In 2003 HSBC acquired the American subprime lender Household International. Phillip Inman of The Guardian wrote in an article entitled HSBC counts the cost of US housing market collapse: