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Analysts at Household – HSBC Watch think HSBC learned from the recent subprime crisis, regardless of what they tell Knight Vinke and other activists. After studying HSBC and Household International for many years Household – HSBC Watch thinks HSBC will make a move soon. Changes must look like they are HSBC’s idea, not forced by others. Saving face is important to HSBC. From a business and profit standpoint this is what should happen soon:

HSBC will close specific HFC and Beneficial Finance offices. Offices in problem areas and subprime areas will close first. Expect 90 to 150 offices to close in the first round of cutbacks. Also expect bad publicity from Inner City Press and Acorn if these closings are in redlined areas. Therefore the first round of closings will include a percentage of locations classified as “overlapping geographic locations.”

Will HSBC close the entire branch network? Time will tell, but saving millions in payroll will show a profit to those in London while appeasing investors. HSBC has learned from Decision One’s mistakes. Second mortgages and bad loans through Beneficial and Household Finance make absolutely no sense. While fewer borrowers will get wrapped up in a trap of negative amortization and high interest rates, closing HFC and Beneficial will give consumers and up side. Borrowers can go a more reputable lender that can actually process payments on time and in person.

HSBC does not have enough reputable HSBC Bank locations in the United States. If they did HSBC could consolidate, centralize, and ride out the storm. Some analysts believe HSBC will forever be associated with predatory lender Household International in the United States. That association has been promulgated by consumer advocates and watchdog organizations, all of whom protested HSBC’s purchase of Household International. During the OCC open comment period these same advocates and watchdogs wrote to the OCC, often more than once. A copy of all material was presented to HSBC by the OCC, through HSBC’s attorneys. The existance of, and positions taken by these advocates and watchdogs, was clearly presented to HSBC.

HSBC’s had a chance to change Household International, which is now called HSBC Finance. Any first year marketing student understands how to rebrand and remarket. Any first year finance student can tell you that high interest rates and oppressive terms will eventually cause a business failure. A simple study of Providian can prove that. Honesty and integrity play a big part in public perception. For borrowers we offer this example: A potential customer calls HFC, CitiFinancial, and one other lender to get a quote and monthly payments. CitiFinancial says the payment would be $350 per month. HFC says the payment would be $275 per month. The customer asks HFC why the deal sounds better. The HFC reps says they are a big company with 100 years of experience. THE truth is the payment is amortized over 30 years but the loan is for the same term as that offered by CitiFinancial. A lie or a scam? You decide, but the bottom line is HSBC never changed it.

When HSBC took loan losses that near or exceed what they paid for Household International it only makes sense to keep the credit card operation and reduce or eliminate the mortgage operation. Expect HSBC to start closing HFC and Beneficial offices by the end of October. Expect closings to continue until many more people are unemployed. And expect smiles in London as HSBC looks to make shareholders, including Kinight Vinke, very happy. In an earlier article we wrote about how HSBC lost the heartland of America. Expect HSBC to crush the hearts of employees just before the holiday season, giving pink slips instead of paychecks as it turns cold.

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