Saturday, October 25, 2008

Free lunch for senior citizens!

Currently the world is enveloped in crisis after crisis. The pinyin for the word Crisis is ‘Wei Ji’. ‘Wei’ means danger while ‘Ji’ means opportunity.

In a crisis, it means that within danger, there is also opportunity; if one plans ahead and has the means. When there is one crisis after another like now, opportunities of a lifetime would abound and ripe for the taking if one had planned it well.

What does one mean by having the means?

If you are cash rich and hold minimal stocks or none at all at the moment, you have the means.

What does one mean by planning ahead?

Soon there would be lifetime opportunities for the taking, if not already. One would suggest to senior citizens – retirees, pensioners or those near to retirement – who have the means to plan to buy the bluest of the blue chips in your country, be it the US, Canada and Europe.

Look for utility companies, beverages companies and tech stocks for example ATT, Nestle, Coca Cola, IBM, Microsoft Corporation and British Telecoms to invest in. Ensure that the companies you want to invest in are making profits from their operations, cash rich, hold minimal debt and pay regular dividends by looking up their financial statements and/or annual reports for the past few years.

Ask your financial advisors to look up these criteria if you do not understand financial statements or reports. With the current dwindling trades in the stock markets, I am sure the financial advisers would be more than willing to provide you this service.

After obtaining the necessary information, and feeling comfortable with the companies, set realistic target prices to buy their stocks; setting new lifetime lows are okay but do not set too low a target or you may never be able to own a good and safe stock which may still be profitable, paying regular dividends during a severe recession or even in a great depression, if any.

Keep monitoring your target companies’ share prices and news reports on them. Start buying once the set targets have been reached. Never put all your money in just one stock.

Do not mind stock analysts or market gurus’ lower calls, unless something is really wrong with the company concerned! If they know so much about markets and timing, their funds or hedge funds would not have lost their shirts or had to close shop.

From online news, I gather that share prices of some old established institutions in the US have already reached a few decades low. If they are good and safe companies, have a look at them. These are examples of opportunities of a lifetime within the crises, are they not?

Start doing your homework now to plan ahead.

Once your country’s economy turns good again, you could reap huge capital gains from those stocks that you have planned ahead and bought, if you want. And do not forget to donate some money to your favorite charity from the realized gains that you made from the stock market during the current crises. The needy, the orphanages, the old folk’s homes and those in dire straits need our help.

No, you guys and gals do not have to buy a billion US dollars worth of CDO and CDS off me for this free lunch! (In case, some do not understand the joke, US investment bankers had been providing free lunches for the old fools flying in from Europe for the past few years to encourage them to buy the now toxic products and other derivatives, according to online news.)

Lunch is on me because of your continued support over the past few years.

Thanks and good luck!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dawn raids on pension funds

Just when you think that your money is safe, your government after using up the country’s reserves and emptying your children’s piggy banks (in relation to the future tax burdens they have to bear), will soon, if not started already, make dawn raids on your parents’ and your pension funds.

(At the time of writing, Argentina has just announced the nationalization of the country’s private pension funds while our government has already announced that they will borrow a few billion from our largest pension fund of which I am still a member to support the stock market.)

No, you cannot blame the government. The conventional wisdom of not to bail failing companies has been thrown out of the window, as expected.

Desperate times need desperate measures, and governments are indeed desperate since they don’t know what to do.

The safety net has widened considerably if you have not noticed. (Think of the bail outs of insurers, real property companies, and businesses, for example Korea, that betted heavily on the continued appreciation of their country’s currency against the US dollar and got severely whacked.)

A country’s financial system, her stock market and currency have to be saved at any cost – unless the government officials have to use their own money. Every government leader wants to be the hero or heroine of the day in the current crises.

Every moment is just a breath-take away from the reversal of the bottom of the global stock markets. If dumping tens and hundreds of billions of US dollars into the system do not work, and when the chips are down, why not try trillions? Brilliant strategy!

If the country runs out of money trying to rescue all the sinking and rotten toxic laden boats, the easiest or the softest touch is to raid the huge cash pile still available in the pension funds. After all, Japan has had set the precedent during the early 1990s. And look how well she has been doing since then, despite the so called lost decade. That is if you do not mind paying the banks like the Japanese did, a small annual interest or a fee for keeping your money with them rather than keeping cash under the mattress or in the safe for years on end.

The rather unfortunate thing to this is that almost all governments in the world are caught up in the game and feeling rather feverish in the loins. In case, you do not understand gaming analogy, gamblers feel feverish after laying heavy bets all across the table hoping that the roulette ball will eventually fall on their betted numbers.

A roar goes up if they win but they feel peevish when they lose. Perhaps these governments should just stick to playing red or black since they have already lost tons of their country’s money playing the numbers, don’t you think? Or perhaps, they should ask those French who frequent Monte Carlo, how to really play roulette.

Playing red or black can certainly provide a better percentage of wins than the numbers. Instead of the numerous I don’t knows you get from those government officials who are supposed to be in charge, after quickly burning up the country’s reserves and money in your children’s piggy banks.

Of course the global stock markets had roared for two days after the weekend announcement that the US and Europe would pump in almost three trillion US dollars to bail out their financial systems. Mr. Market approved and the markets rose by the same amount in value, if not more. A fair exchange, one would say.

However you cannot blame the markets for plunging again after the initial euphoria. Mr. Market is probably now waiting for more trillion dollars announcements before he decides to roar again. That is one reason, the governments may dawn raid their countries’ pension funds rather than resort to continuously print money up till late next year to pay for their recently acquired gambling habits and those of their rescued or adopted kids – those unrepentant hard core gamblers who still point fingers at others for the fall of world renowned institutions.

And in a very wrong way, these well heeled Americans and Europeans have become more Chinese than expected.

Instead of learning their ancient virtues, they have learned their vices and have finally taken over the mantle from the Chinese to become the new kings of gamblers, in terms of magnitude.

The Chinese men in the street who have gambling in their blood can only afford to lose their shirt or their lives while these well heeled and learned guys can lose hundreds of billions (almost 700 Billion to date) and bring down giant institutions. And still managed to get well paid plus huge bonuses to boot – outstanding back pay and bonuses amounted to 69 Billion US dollars, I last heard.

Therefore, no contest, these well heeled intellects win hands down. And the whole world including you and me loses.

No, I am still sitting on my hands, if readers want to know if I have started to invest in the stock market. And since no institution or government wants to pay anything for the trillion dollar answer of when the bear markets will reverse, which can be provided at a very reasonable price, I will go into hiding.

There you go no free lunches and spoon feeding, even if kin, good friends and regular readers ask. Unless I can sell you a CDO or CDS worth a USD billion that no one else wants!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Watching heaven fall (2)

Less than a month after seeing the closure of heaven and earth on September 15, people across the globe are currently witnessing yet another lifetime phenomenon, that of the falling of heaven.

The way global investors in great panic scrambled out of the stock markets in the flight to safety last week looks as if heaven is falling down, does it not?

The status quo of human nature remains since time immemorial. Humans rely on their basic instincts of survival and run for cover fleeing to safety whenever there is pandemonium on earth.

In such times of crises, the West talks about the phenomenon of the sky falling out, while the Chinese call it, heaven falling.

Within the week ended October 10, the Japanese, Russian and Indonesian stock markets had fallen 20% or more. The Russian and Indonesian markets were temporary suspended to stop the incessant selling down of stocks. Many other stock market indices across the world including the Dow Jones plummeted 10% to 20%.

Trillions of US dollars in value have simply disappeared from the global stock markets in the cascading falls commencing from September 15 just when Tao has receded all under heaven.

Repeating history, like what the Japanese people did in the early 1990s, the Americans have resorted to buying safes (sales of safes have shot up by 44% in the USA, the last couple of months according to online news reports) to keep cash at home rather than putting their trust in banks or relying on the government to look after their hard earned money. This says a lot, doesn’t it?

If you really think that the Japanese and Americans are rather silly or that the investors fleeing to safety have completely lost their minds, you could be the one fooling yourself and/or had been acting like an ostrich amidst this falling of heaven.

Hunker down, batten the hatches, like the able man withdraw into the dark for safety and security as advised by the Zhouyi before it is too late to do anything.


Readers are again reminded that they are solely responsible for their own actions or non actions.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Determining how and when Tao pervades or recesses all under Heaven

This entry is dedicated to those scholars of Tao and/or the Zhouyi who graced this blog with their visits or comments; since what is written could be profound and above the heads of many.

Therefore if it is beyond your immediate understanding, reread it when you are ready. It may provide you with further clarity on ancient Chinese thoughts and a deeper understanding of the Tao Te Ching and the Zhouyi. It would also depend on whether or not, first class scholars of Tao and/or the Yi would want to weigh in with their comments and thoughts. Here goes.

It is said that Heaven governs time while Earth governs space. To overcome fate, the Junzi needs to master time and space. Therefore the study of Heaven and Earth was of special interest to the ancients and the Junzi down the ages. This study can be considered part and parcel of Tao and the Zhouyi.

Investigating into things, one has found a particular teaching on Heaven and Earth which may arouse the interest of scholars of the three doctrines.

Top scholars and those who have cultivated Tao for a decade or more are most welcome to try to find the real meaning behind this teaching that the ancient sages passed down to posterity in their respective classics and book – the Book of Changes, the Tao Te Ching, and the Analects.

The second part of the exercise is to determine how and when such phenomena - the pervasion and recess of Tao which can be paraphrased as the opening and closing of heaven and earth - occur. The thing to remember is the examination of the subject of Tao and the Zhouyi, and not either or. Otherwise the scholar may not fully understand this ancient teaching.

About two thousand five hundred years ago, Laozi wrote in the Tao Te Ching:

May not the space between heaven and earth be compared to a bellows? Emptied, yet it loses not its power; moved again, and it sends forth air the more.’ [Legge]

On or about the same time, Confucius taught this to his students as recorded in Book 8 Chapter 13 of the Analects:

When Tao pervades all under heaven, be prominent. When Tao recesses, go into hiding.’ [AL]

In the Da Zhuan (The Great Treatise), it is said:

The Book of Changes is vast and great. When one speaks of what is far, it knows no limits. When one speaks of what is near, it is still and right. When one speaks of the space between heaven and earth, it embraces everything.’ [W/B]

In the Commentaries to the Hexagrams, it is said:

When heaven and earth are creating in change and transformation, all plants and trees flourish; but when heaven and earth close, the able man withdraws into the dark.’ [W/B]

Since the teaching is related, the holy sages and the two great sages knew or would have experienced what had been indicated. It depicts that great minds think alike. Grasping the complete meaning can advance our own understanding of Tao, Yi, cultivation and fate. However, it does not mean that our knowledge is equal to these ancient sages.

It is said that a great and wise scholar, Wang Bi [A D 226 – 249] wrote about the meaning of the Book of Changes as a book of wisdom, not as a book of divination. Several centuries later, a top Confucian scholar, Zhu Xi [A D 1130 – 1200] attempted to rehabilitate it as a book of oracles; in addition to a short and precise commentary on the I Ching, he published an introduction to his investigations concerning the art of divination. [W/B lx]

Since the Book of Changes has been or can be used as a book of wisdom or a book of oracles, both the two scholars were right. However if Yi aficionados use the Book of Changes solely for wisdom or only for divination, then I am afraid they may not have reached a sufficient depth to understand or interpret what the ancients had said in this instance.

Having read some articles on their thoughts, both these scholars cannot be said to have deep knowledge of the workings of Tao as compared to Chen Tuan and Shao Yong.

Perhaps a simple explanation can be suggested: ‘Wang Bi who died early at the young age of 24, and Zhu Xi, strictly a Confucian, were not versed with neidan (inner alchemy) meditation’.

For ‘without seeing what can be seen, without feeling what can be felt, without hearing what can be heard’ as indicated in the Tao Te Ching, Daoist texts, and in Buddha’s Shurangama Sutra; how far can any Tao cultivator go? If one cannot go far in the real cultivation, how much can one really know about Tao?

Sinologists and their Chinese mentors appeared not to have shown their comprehension of the entire meaning in the teaching, even if they were versed with Classical Chinese and ancient philosophy.

The renowned late sinologist, James Legge and his mentor(s) had somehow completely fluffed the meaning in his Analects translation, the reason for my simple translation of what Confucius had actually said. Legge mentioned – caution – in his interpretation of the line in the Zhouyi.

Richard Wilhelm and his learned mentor did better by explaining why and what the able have to do, with the closing of Heaven and Earth. But Wilhelm and his mentor had not covered the angle on Tao.

If cultivators of Tao and Yi scholars do not understand what Laozi and Confucius meant, writings of the Zhen Ren or the Quanzhen heavenly immortals like Zhong Liquan, Lu Dongbin and Zhang Boduan can provide some guidance.

If you cannot find the real meaning behind the teaching on Tao and the Zhouyi, and/or the second part of the exercise – the determination of how and when the phenomena occur - try discussing it with likeminded fellows or consult your learned teacher(s) including the Heavenly immortals (Tian Xian), if any.

But do not expect any help from me. Since how would I know?


I thought the entry on Hexagram 62 which took three working days to write and fine tuned was long since the sensitivities of a well known translator had to be taken into account, to prove a point.

This entry took much longer, since it could be a revelation or not of a real teaching. Over the past few weeks, I had to ponder and reread what were indicated by the ancients, the Zhen Ren and the wise.

Therefore I would appreciate if readers provide a citation to this blog entry if they intend to use the material elsewhere for their studies, website, blog, and/or for gain.