Monkeys

Four months.

Four wretched months.

So, what’s a bear to do when the markets grind inexorably higher?

What I mean to say is: Where’s the pain, the mental anguish that filled them all with joy at the end of October, a mere 17% ago?

Yes, the Hang Seng Index has regained its mojo. The Dow is on a 9-week winning streak and the record of 14 is within grasp. These achievements pale into insignificance however when you consider that Wales has now won 12 tests in a row and rounded off the season with an overwhelming crushing of England on Sunday morning Hong Kong time.

But wait, I hear you protest, the season isn’t over yet.

Oh yes it is, we cry!

If the season were played 5, lost 4, won1 and that solitary win were against England then it would still be a grand season. 

Of course, we do still have to visit Murrayfield, and there is the small matter of the number two ranked team in the world to visit Cardiff after that.

But Wales has leapfrogged another team to rise to third and we shall bask in this moment of glory. Alun Wyn would walk on water if he weren’t so damned heavy.

And yet, and yet, as a supporter who remembers the glory days of the 70s (passing the bottle round the North Enclosure) and the depths of despair of the 90s before we discovered Kiwi rugby coaches, there is always that lingering doubt at the back of the mind. Could Murrayfield be our Bannockburn? And could the markets roll over just as the Grand Slam beckons?

In the office where I occasionally help out (or is it hinder?), a battle royal is fought each morning between the traders, the chartists, the quants and the fundamentalists, each arguing their views. It’s going up, it’s going down, it’s trading sideways, up 3%, down 5%, the VIX is becalmed…

And then someone utters the fateful words, “maybe this time is different!”

I find it fascinating to sit on the sidelines and toss in a few bonmots, usually purloined from Letter from Linlithgow.

I’m even starting to introduce my colleagues to the Institute for Incomplete Information. I swear one of the younger quants went away to see if they had an official website.   

One of the challenges of getting old is that the youth of today just don’t get it. Mention that Peter Tork of The Monkees has passed away and they shrug. They wonder whether the spellchecker was broken when the band was formed.

When I explain that our spellcheckers in the 60s weighed several pounds and had the word Dictionary written on the front, they look baffled. “Why didn’t you just google it?” they ask. 

We are at that point in the year when Hong Kong is on the cusp of Spring. The dengue fever prevention crews are out spraying every living organism with nasty chemicals just in case there may be a mosquito hidden somewhere. 

Later in the year the AFCD will survey the same locations and scratch their collective heads over the decline in the insect population. The government will chortle with glee and regard this as another reason to bulldoze every blade of greenery they can find to sell off the land to developers.

Sharp readers will recall Chief Executive Carrie Baldrick’s cunning plan to build Atlantis off the coast of Lantau. Not content with this environmental vandalism she is now planning to build on one of the HK Golf Club’s Fanling courses.

I am slightly skeptical that the poorer golfers will be able to hook their drives round the apartment block. I foresee rather a lot of broken glass as Mr. & Mrs. Chan find a Dunlop 65 landing in the middle of their evening rice bowl.

And the shout of ‘Fore’ will be grossly unpopular. In Cantonese the word for four sounds similar to the word for death. Our tower block has no 4th floor, nor even a 14th and no local in their right mind would live on the 44th floor – double death.

Returning as I must to the second most important matter of the day (after the rugby) I think the answer to the question ‘whither the markets?’ is probably best answered by consulting the temple fortuneteller.

For a hundred dollars you can get an answer to solve all the dealing room’s problems. So tomorrow I’m off to Wong Tai Sin to have my fortune told.

I’m sure if I follow the right rites I shall be blessed with great fortune. I don’t know about you but I’m a Believer.

Author
Hu Ziss in Hong Kong
This letter is the personal view of Mr Hu, and is not necessarily the view of Alan Steel Asset Management.