Sense of deja vu as the pig comes a-calling

Business | Andrew Wong 11 Feb 2019

This week, I would like to talk to you about key market events in relation to the Chinese lunar calendar.

First of all, I need to state that this does not involve any metaphysics because I do not understand any of that. Therefore, I do not want to teach fish how to swim. Moreover, my father warned me that if I want to succeed, I must focus, so I would rather focus on the financial world than about other things just to catch the attention of others.

There are some who use the Chinese calendar for statistics or as a reference point for events that happen periodically.

For instance, investors were wary about 2017 because Hong Kong stocks had peaked in 1987, 1997 and 2007 However, in the end, 2017 passed without a hitch.

However, some analysts believed that this peak would be delayed till 2018 because the 10-year cycle of Hong Kong stocks should be three to four months longer than a decade.

Of course, there are some who still doubt whether the Hong Kong stock market has peaked but when one looks at the previous Year of the Pig - back in 2007 - one can see a lot of similarities between then and now.

Of course, this does not mean that the markets will behave as they did in 2007 and 2008, but there are a few points worth remembering about the last Year of the Pig.

First of all, there was no coming of spring in the last Year of the Pig, which was regarded as a "blind year."

In addition to the traditional Chinese saying that a "blind year" is not suitable for marriage, ancient society also believed that the fleeting year would be blighted by bad weather and a poor harvest.

The biggest fear today is that global economic growth will slow or we might even fall into a worldwide recession.

Back in 2007, the market fretted that the sub-prime crisis in the United States would trigger a global meltdown, which eventually broke as the Year of the Pig came to an end, justifying fears about the bad omens that a "blind year" brings.

In addition, when the crisis began to emerge in 2007, many investors were pinning their hopes on the government launching rescue measures to stimulate the economy, after the cycle of raising interest rates ended in 2006. In the end, the Fed Reserve started cutting interest rates in November that year.

This year, the market is similarly looking forward to the end of the cycle of US interest rate hikes. Also, there is even a chance that the Fed might cut interest rates due to the economic slowdown and the Sino-US trade war.

Thus, there is a feeling of deja vu as we welcome the Year of the Pig.

As for the mainland and Hong Kong stock markets, both markets eventually hit record highs in 2007, buoyed in part by the proposed "Through Train" scheme which would allow direct share trading between Hong Kong and the mainland .

The Shanghai Composite Index has never surpassed the high of 6,100 points it hit that year, and the market believes that this year might be like 2009, with trillions being pumped into rescue plans.

As to whether the stock markets will suddenly go crazy like they did in 2007, that remains to be seen. But even so, we should remember that even then, the performance of the market was not ideal.

Finally, I would like to emphasize that all of this is just statistical data, and so it does not mean that the market and economy this year will fare exactly the way they did during the previous Year of the Pig.

As the Chinese new year gets under way, I wish you, dear reader, prosperity, good health and all the very best in the Year of the Pig.

Andrew Wong is an independent commentator.

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