My last consultation of the Zhouyi was in April and in the midst of the current meltdown of the financial markets, I recently put to the Yi the simplest of questions, ‘What is happening?’
The prognostication came in the form of an unchanged Hexagram 3 Tun / Difficulty at the Beginning. Not surprising for any Yi aficionado to receive such an answer, during a time of stagnation where heaven and earth stay as they are, and when the inferior man (Xiao Ren) comes into prominence, the superior man (Junzi) withdraws into seclusion since no one wants to listen.
The judgment in Tun says:
Difficulty at the Beginning works supreme success, furthering through perseverance. Nothing should be undertaken. It furthers one to appoint helpers.
Times of growth are beset with difficulties. They resemble a first birth (an individual produced by heaven and earth).
When it is a man’s fate to undertake such new beginnings, everything is still unformed, dark. Hence he must hold back, because any premature move might bring disaster.
Like wise, it is very important not to remain alone; in order to overcome the chaos he need helpers. [W/B]
The image says:
Clouds and thunder: The image of Difficulty at the Beginning. Thus the superior man brings order out of confusion.
Who this Junzi will be is the trillion dollars question, since without the necessary and forthcoming revelations (read real exposure, estimated ‘damage’ or losses, denials); no one really knows how to resolve the current crises. Therefore team work is required which is what the G7 is currently doing.
Gleaning from the online financial pages of various international newspapers and reputable global TV stations, it seems that the US subprime mortgages, related CDOs and their highly ‘sophisticated’ derivatives amounting to trillions of US dollars are treated as off-balance sheet items by banks. The carry trades industry could easily add a few more trillions in credit exposure to these global banks not forgetting the hefty equity financing and the recent un-disgorged loans for leveraged buyouts. (The reason the Junzi who could resolve the chaos is considered a trillion dollars question.)
With various prestigious US universities’ economic professors coming forward to predict a major economic downturn arising from the deepening subprime mortgages crisis, and/or a 30 to 50% fall in US house prices, the Junzi will definitely need all the help, he or she can get to alleviate the problems of creditworthy house buyers and for the common good.
As to what these US professors have predicted will the US property market follow the horrendous falls (up to 70%) in prices of Hong Kong’s real properties witnessed after the Asian financial crisis and the SAR crisis? It is quite obvious, like the Hong Kong example given; there will be negative net worth of subprime properties, since the lending criteria to buyers of these houses in the US were irrational in the first place. But whether or not US house prices will fall 50% is anyone’s guess.
In times of chaos and unemployment, the Yi indicates not to undertake anything. The fated or 'heaven assigned' Junzi would handle the chaos and the unemployment factors.
Therefore one holds cash to wait for the debris from the crises fallout to settle.
This entry is written for most Yi aficionados. There are at least two more levels of interpretation of the prognostication if they understand the purpose of my ‘simplest question’ and ponder the Yi’s answer deeper.
The two other interpretations are reserved for another entry. Meanwhile those interested have some lead time (a day or two) to make their own interpretations, based on the assumption that the Yi has really spoken. Let us see if we can arrive at the same conclusion as to what the Yi had wanted to tell me and the world, with an unchanged hexagram Tun.
(Hint: there is still some time before the ominous omen, if any, occurs.)